al Qaeda Attacks Shiite Mosques


al Qaeda steps up its campaign to destroy the political process and incite a civil war by attacking Shiite mosques; the wider situation in Iraq is virtually being ignored

SCIRI Mosque Attack.jpg

BBC Photo Gallery of Attack on the SCIRI Mosque in Baghdad, click to view.

al Qaeda in Iraq is pressing on its campaign to destroy the political process to form a unity government and incite a civil war. One day after a strike at a Shiite mosque in Najaf, which killed twelve, three suicide bombers entered a SCIRI mosque in northern Baghdad, and killed over 50 worshippers and wounded over 130.

Reuters reports "The bombers were dressed in traditional Shi'ite women's black robes when they struck, two inside the mosque and one outside as worshipers headed home, a police official said... Some police sources said the bombers were women; others said they were a woman and two men dressed as women."

Iraq the Model notes the attack was directed at the SCIRI mosque where Jalal Addin al-Sagheer preaches, and that al-Sagheer is "the first SCIRI member to publicly urge Ibrahim al-Jafari to withdraw his nomination for office" as well as "one of the headquarters of the SCIRI and its clerical wing in Baghdad, even that [SCIRI Leader] Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem's son Ammar al-Hakkem preaches occasionally in this mosque when sheikh Jalal is not available." al-Sagheer is also a close confidant of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

The attack in Baghdad followed a warning from the Interior ministry that "it received intelligence that insurgents were preparing to set off seven car bombs in Baghdad." The ministry "cautioned people in Baghdad to avoid crowds near mosques and markets due to a car bomb threat." The only good news that can be taken out of this is the Iraqi Security Forces' intelligence seems to be improving, as this attack was anticipated, but not enough to the point where this specific attack could have been deterred.

While the bad news from Baghdad continues, U.S. Army Capt. Dan Sukman provides an excellent commentary about "The War at Six Inches" from the perspective of a soldier:

How can so many people have a different view of this war? Some say it is successful, some say we are failing, some say everything in between. The war to the infantryman on the line in south Baghdad is completely different than the war to an infantryman in Mosul, which is much different than the war to a soldier standing guard at division headquarters. And none of them see what a brigade staff officer in Tikrit sees, nor does that brigade staff officer see the same war as a company commander in Tal Afar.

Bill Putnam provides a view of his war at six inches in Bayji; "A lot has changed in the three months since I left Bayji. A new Iraqi army battalion from Kirkuk is in town. A new IP Emergency Response Unit arrived from Tikrit. Last but not least, the Rakkassans [of the 101st Air Assault Division] stopped going into Bayji until this week."

The media magnifying glass remains on Baghdad, and the wider story of Iraq remains practically untold. The media's war at six inches is largely reported from the confines of the International Zone and the Palestine Hotel as al Qaeda and the insurgency puts on a show for their benefit.



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READER COMMENTS: "al Qaeda Attacks Shiite Mosques"

Posted by ECH at April 7, 2006 12:37 PM ET:

I have been hearing numerous reports that violence by nationalist and Baathist groups against al-Qaeda have all but stopped in the wake of the violence after the Samarra mosque bombing. They say that the Sunni fear of the Shia militias have caused the Baathists and nationalists to to stop fighting Zarqawi out of fear and the desire to project a united front.

What do you think about these reports Bill?

Posted by ECH at April 7, 2006 12:55 PM ET:

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

Iraq the Model has a great article on this topic. This attack was a direct message that Iran is sending (using al-Qaeda) to the SCIRI to end their opposition to Jaafari.

Posted by Marlin at April 7, 2006 1:55 PM ET:

Haider Ajina, an Iraqi now living in California, sent another of his irregular e-mails to Gateway Pundit today that is well worth reading. This part about arresting terrorists dressed as women was new news to me.

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Iraqi media has reported over that last week the arrest of hundreds of terrorist suspects (some dressed as women). Amongst those arrested were many Egyptians, Sudanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Saudis, Iranians and Kuwaitis. Dozens of hideouts were uncovered and dozens of weapons caches have been confiscated. Iraqis have been informing on terrorist suspects and reporting any suspicious vehicles. Over two-dozen IEDs have been uncovered and defused with no damage or harm to civilians. Half a dozen hostages have been rescued.

Gateway Pundit: News From the Quagmire

Posted by Andrew Reeves at April 7, 2006 2:03 PM ET:

Uh, I don't think that Iran needs to go the roundabout way of Al Qaeda to send a message to SCIRI, since SCIRI is an Iranian based group.

On another note, I can almost understand the desire of your Shi'ite militias to kill whatever Sunnis they get their hands on. Imagine if Calvinist terrorists were meticulously bombing Catholic places of worship and had been doing so for close to two years. There would be a strong desire on the part of your average Catholic to exact whatever payback he could.

Posted by Marlin at April 7, 2006 2:03 PM ET:

Paul Mirengoff of PowerLine attended a talk by Sayyed Ayad Raouf Jamal al-Din at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) today. Jamal al-Din ran for parliament on the slate headed by former prime minister Alawi. This was a national unity slate, and it fared poorly in the election. I thought the following take by Paul of Jamal al-Din's position was worth noting, especially as it confirms the critical need for blogs like The Fourth Rail to keep the American public informed.

-----------

During the question period, I asked Jamal al-Din to say who is winning in Iraq now, truth or fear; democracy or tyranny. He answered by saying that right now Iraq is "a kingdom of fear." Diana West and I later agreed that this answer is more meaningful and perhpas more disheartening than Dr. Alawi's claim (which has become a mantra of the left in this country) that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war. In a civil war, there's an enemy army; in a kingdom of fear there are ghosts. An army can be easier to fight than ghosts.

But Jamal al-Din does not seem inordinately disheartened. He believes that the creation of a military and a police force with a national identity would enable the truth-fear, democracy-tyranny struggle to be played out in a clash between sectarian militias and the national army and police force. Though he did not say so, I felt that Jamal al-Din believes this struggle could go either way, and he clearly believes that much depends on the willingness of the U.S. to remain engaged.

PowerLine: A patriotic Iraqi confronts the kingdom of fear

Posted by ECH at April 7, 2006 2:22 PM ET:

Uh, I don't think that Iran needs to go the roundabout way of Al Qaeda to send a message to SCIRI, since SCIRI is an Iranian based group.
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Then you haven't been paying attention to the political situation in Iraq. Iran months ago replaced their allience with the SCIRI with that of one with Sadr and the Madhi Army. The SCIRI are no longer beholden to Iran because Iran cut them off. And, now the SCRIRI is trying to replace Iran's candidate for PM and this is a direct message to the SCIRI by Iran to back down their opposition to Jaafari.

Posted by C-Low at April 7, 2006 8:43 PM ET:

Sounds like old Sadr has reinstated his alliance with the AQ/Sunni Radicals.

I hope the Iraqi's see this as what it is an AQ attempt to assist Sadr and his boys on holding their power. Iraq the Model had mentioned:

"this mosque is of considerable political significance, the preacher in this mosque is Jalal Addin al-Sagheer, a cleric from the SCIRI who was the first SCIRI member to publicly urge Ibrahim al-Jafari to withdraw his nomination for office.
This mosque is one of the headquarters of the SCIRI and its clerical wing in Baghdad, even that Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem's son Ammar al-Hakkem preaches occasionally in this mosque when sheikh Jalal is not availablethis mosque is of considerable political significance, the preacher in this mosque is Jalal Addin al-Sagheer, a cleric from the SCIRI who was the first SCIRI member to publicly urge Ibrahim al-Jafari to withdraw his nomination for office.
This mosque is one of the headquarters of the SCIRI and its clerical wing in Baghdad, even that Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem's son Ammar al-Hakkem preaches occasionally in this mosque when sheikh Jalal is not available"
enphasis mine

Maybe that assist is because they see Sadr in power better for their chances of fermenting a civil war or maybe I think more likely they have reinstated that alliance from 04' with AQ/Sunni Radicals. I think the later more likely if for no other reason that both Sadr & AQ/Sunni Radicals both know full well learnt the hard way that neither can defeat the US but together along with some mutual interest alliance and support from Iran (who needs Iraq a mess to hold the US down & would sign on with the devil himself to buy sometime) just maybe hope.

Either way we are going to have to takeout Sadr and his crew either before or after the big show starts with Iran. I would like to have done it a year ago but that's the past now we are here and it's now or tomorrow. Now will force Iran into either sitting and watching as their ally is slaughtered knowing full well they are next and letting the Sadr supporters see just how much the Iranians really care for them 0 or they can jump and give US our reason.

Well it looks like that decision may already be made if this article is true maybe becuase it is Debka:

http://www.debka.com/

"DEBKAfile Exclusive: American troops pour into Iraqi Shiite towns of Najef and Karbala to meet radical Sadrist militia threat"

I think we are at the beginning of the End of the Iraq Phase (of course their still will be support and troops just doing more of the tie up loose ends and emergency back up only role) and it looks to be the beginning of the beginning of the Iranian Phase.

Posted by Pete Paraschos at April 7, 2006 10:04 PM ET:

ECH, are you absolutely certain that Iran has cut off SCIRI? (Maybe the reverse might be true.) Sadr's stock has certainly been rising in Tehran lately, but has SCIRI's really fallen off all that much?

I have a hard time believing that Iran would cast SCIRI aside so casually, with such financial finality, at this critical juncture. Like the old saying goes, some times it's better to keep your rivals on the inside pissing out, than on the outside pissing in.

Tehran may have mistakenly crowned SCIRI the king-maker, the last piece of the national unity government puzzle, leaving the Sadrists in the lurch.

Sadr is an unguided missile. He can summon major chaos, but he can't control his gangsters, which means he can't implement Tehran's orders very well.

The IRGC has had about 18 months to insinuate its operatives and trainers deeply within the Mehdi Army. We'll see if they've had any effect soon enough.

Posted by ECH at April 7, 2006 11:31 PM ET:

The Arab media has been reporting for months that Iran dumped its allience with the SCIRI in favor of the Madhi Army and that Iran and Sadr have been threatening Harkim and demanding that he support Jaafari.

Posted by desert rat at April 8, 2006 12:25 AM ET:

Flags and false flags.
Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.

If Arab media reports something about Iranian relationships, it is what the Iranians want reported. They publicly dismiss SCIRI and privately conspire, bet your life.
To believe otherwise plays into their hand.

Do you believe al Jeezera's other reports?

Posted by desert rat at April 8, 2006 12:31 AM ET:

How else could Mr Mahdi be made acceptable to US?

The debka link above had this connected story
"...
Six Iraqi lawmakers elected on the United Iraqi Alliance ticket were identified as undercover "amid" officers - brigadier-generals - of the Iranian revolutionary guards and intelligence service. They used political fronts to disguise their undercover missions on behalf of the Islamic republic.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly reveals the names and functions of those six Iraqi politicians-cum-Iranian brigadier generals.

Abu Muchtabi Sari - former secretary general of the Iraqi Hizballah.

Abu Hassan Al Amari - the last commander of the Badr Force at its base in Iran.

Abu Mahdi al Muhandis - former Badr Force officer.

Rajah Alwan - former Badr Force officer.

Dager Moussawi - Head of the Lord of the Martyrs Movement, which Iran's military intelligence established in the Shiite regions of central and southern Iraq. (Lord in the Shiite sense refers to the holy Imam Hussein)

Tahsin Aboudi - a high-ranking Iraqi interior ministry official, under which cover - and as an Iraqi member of parliament - he is aan undercover brigadier general of Iran's external intelligence service, which is operated by the foreign ministry in Tehran. ... "

Interesting, but remember the source.

Posted by hamidreza at April 8, 2006 2:13 AM ET:

The Iranian government is not one monolithic block. There are many layers of government in Iran, and there are at least 3 major competing factions inside Iran. Although these factions do coalesce on existential threats, they often have opposing and conflicting views on how to manipulate the situation in Iraq.

For the hardliners, the objective in Iraq is to see democracy and civil government totally fail, even though it may not result in their minions grabbing power. Chaos and armageddon is the objective for this faction, as they know half of Iraq will never submit to them.

The hardliners of Iran generally back Sadr and other radicals. Elements of the Iranian security apparatus (Pasdarans) back al-Qaeda of Iraq and its offshoots. Some Iranian reformists and moderates appear to back SCIRI and Sistani.

There is no question that this bombing was to intimidate and punish SCIRI and Sistani and bring them into line with the Iranian hardliners. This is not the first time that Iran has blown up moderate Iraqi Shiites. After all, such deaths are considered "rewarded in heaven". So there is no moral downside about killing your own, especially the less cooperating ones who are toeing "out of line", - as according to the demented ideology of jihadist Islam, they will be amply rewarded in afterlife. The end fully justifies the means, and also this improves the chances of the apocalyptic return of Imam Mahdi.

al-Qaeda would be the ideal vehicle to accomplish this. The intended beneficiary is Sadr and Shiite radicals and militants.

Depending on the reaction of the Shiites, this may backfire on the Sadrists and further split the UIA.

What you are witnessing is a historic split between 2 views. The Sistani view that the clergy and Ummat should not be involved in crass politics, that should be left to the devout and the lay. And the Khomeinist view that it is the duty of the clergy to rule the population and implement god's government, as in Iran.

Posted by ECH at April 8, 2006 2:24 AM ET:

If Arab media reports something about Iranian relationships, it is what the Iranians want reported. They publicly dismiss SCIRI and privately conspire, bet your life.
To believe otherwise plays into their hand.

Do you believe al Jeezera's other reports?
----------------------------------------------

This was the Kuwaiti press and Bill even posted the article on this site a couple weeks ago.

And, I find your tone a tad offensive.

Posted by hamidreza at April 8, 2006 2:30 AM ET:

ECH - what you report that Sunni insurgents are less inclined to oppose al-Qaeda is worrisome. Iran will be the beneficiary of this and this would reward the Iranian hardliners in their efforts to instigate a sectarian war. Their goal being to prevent the implementation of a national democratic government at any cost.

It'll bolster the position of the Shiite militias, and erode the position of those who advocate a central democratic government within all factions (Sunni, Shiite, Kurds, Seculars).

Posted by blert at April 8, 2006 5:19 AM ET:

No matter the tactic: the opposition is bleeding manpower, lossing position and hanging on by a thread.

It is now the case that Iran is the overwhelming external financier. No one backs a loser, unless they have to.

Away from the storm, civility is breaking out.

The buddy system (American/Iraqi formations) is just killing the opposition.

We are 'flooding the zone' in Baghdad. Newly arrived unlawfull combatants are being fingered.

Some of the biggest skunks have been kicked out of command. Bit by bit the Americans are draining the swamp.

AQIZ found Al Anbar too hot. Baghdad will be a repeat.

Figure the Iraqi Army to be the primary takedown force against Sadr. With American Marines at their side it will be a slaughter. Unlike the prior campaign, this one could be very up-tempo.

Once a solid example is made of the Madi, the others will see the folly of tangling with the Iraqi Army.

The Iraqi Army is still at half size and quarter strength. Let's press on to victory.

Posted by Don Cox at April 8, 2006 6:13 AM ET:

"Imagine if Calvinist terrorists were meticulously bombing Catholic places of worship and had been doing so for close to two years. There would be a strong desire on the part of your average Catholic to exact whatever payback he could."

This is more or less what did happen in Northern Ireland. As in Iraq, there was a tribal component to the fight as well as the religious conflict.

And the British troops which were there to keep the lid on the conflict so far as possible were hated by both sides, like the coalition troops in Iraq.

Posted by Peter Paraschos at April 8, 2006 8:23 AM ET:

Over the past few weeks at work, I've been toying with this hypothesis: Iran is constrained in the amount of chaos it can unleash in Iraq by a fear that if it causes any major spasms of violence, it could provoke the United States into retaliating militarily and also against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The flipside is of course this: if the United States ever appeared close to undertaking military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, either unilaterally or with the U.N.'s imprimatur (doubtful), then Iran would lose its incentive to restrain itself in Iraq.

In a way, maybe the best thing for Iraq right now is for the U.N. Security Council to keep dithering for a few more months on the nuclear problem, and for Iran to keep them dithering by refusing to halt its enrichment program.

Iran has other factors to consider, for example, whether the United States really wants to risk $6 gallon gasoline and a global recession. But my point is that the nuclear issue playes a major, if underappreciated, role in the Iraq situation.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Posted by diane at April 8, 2006 9:34 AM ET:

But my point is that the nuclear issue playes a major, if underappreciated, role in the Iraq situation.

Oh, yes, and that's true with Hezbollah, Hamas, and every other group that Iran uses as proxies to stir up trouble. Iran has enough power and flexibility to control the initiative on a regional level. With the cartoon wars, it looks like they can reach into Europe as well.

Iran will use that power well, if not wisely.

Posted by Paul at April 8, 2006 9:41 AM ET:

The Sunni-Shia hatred for each other is almost as bad as their hatred for the West! The Kurds add another albeit more pro-American dimension.

Posted by desert rat at April 8, 2006 11:49 AM ET:

ECH
Well that is part of the problem. A general lack of Offense. If my little missive was "offensive", for questioning the idea that the Iranian committment to SCIRI should be based on more than an "Arabic News" report. News, which even Mr Rumsfeld admits, the Enemy is a Master a manipulating.
No wonder we're in for a "Long War".

Posted by Peter Paraschos at April 8, 2006 1:09 PM ET:

Whatever else you do today, make sure you bop on over to realclearpolitics.com. Follow the link to Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article on Iran. Eye-opening stuff. But is it true?

Posted by ECH at April 8, 2006 1:20 PM ET:

desert rat,

You have to know that the Kuwaiti press, the Saudi Press, the Jordanian press, and the press from all the Sunni Gulf Arab states is very fearful of Iran and is very pro-Sunni.

They aren't handmadens of Iran.

Posted by Neo-andertal at April 8, 2006 2:54 PM ET:

I see some of the commenters need to be a little more careful about sources.

C-low - Debka file is notoriously unreliable. A little intelligence mixed with a lot of speculation with a heavy emphasis on propaganda. It's true that there is some real intelligence from the Israeli intelligence community mixed in, but it would be hard to tell what are real assessments and what is pure propaganda. I tend to think of Debka as kind of the septic tank of the intelligence news community. I give them a smell every once in a while too, but I can't say much good.

Peter Paraschos - Note on Seymour Hersh, or as I like to call him 'Mr. Anonymous Source Seymour Hersh'. You need to go back and read some of his older stuff than try to match it to reality. Not a very good match. His MO is that he puts together multiple anonymous sources to weave elaborate stories about Washington power politics. His hatchet jobs on numerous political figures are infamous. He has been in the dog house with quite a few editors over the years for his poor sourcing and fuzzy quotes. Most of his output is now found in the opinion columns where all his fuzzy quotes find an audience.

Go reread that New Yorker article with a critical eye. Look at how many anonymous sources and former officials it uses. Look at how many generalized quotes and broad accusations get thrown around. There are very few hard quotes. Hersh often makes broad assertions that he attributes to others, like military officials "think this", or intelligence officials "think that". Look at the scare quotes and short meaningless snippet quotes that he uses all over the place.

I could go on a really major rant about Mr. Hersh, but I think our host might not find it appropriate. I'll stop now.

Posted by Peter Paraschos at April 8, 2006 3:03 PM ET:

Neo-andertal: I am intimately familiar with Mr. Hersh's writings and his questionable M.O. His stuff is Debka quality, only better written and edited.

The problem with Hersh isn't that he's wrong or frequently mistaken, as you point out. It's that he always includes some nugget, some piece of the puzzle, some clue that proves useful putting the big picture together.

The hard part is sifting the chaff to get the wheat. Personally, I do not think that war with Iran is inevitable, though it might be necessary.

I'd put the odds of a clash at no better than 50 percent, and that's being generous.

Posted by Merv Benson at April 8, 2006 3:05 PM ET:

Since attacks on non combatants do not change the corelation of forces, would there be any reason to continue attcks like the one at the mosque, if the coverage was limited to a few entries in the obit section. My point is that these attacks are meant to feed the media and dominate the media battlespace. If reporters deemed the attacks militarily insignificant, which they are, there would be no reason to continue to engage in mass murder by human bomb attacks. The reporting of these events as significant fuels the enemy objective and encourages the enemy to stage more such events.

So who in the DOD is in charge of the media battle space? Apparently no one.

Posted by Peter Paraschos at April 8, 2006 3:11 PM ET:

Lisa, thanks for the tip.

Posted by Merv Benson at April 8, 2006 5:10 PM ET:

I don't think war is about feelings.

The only significance of the attacks is the coverage they achieve in the media. To be militarily significant an attack must effect the ability of the opposing forces to function. You have to attack those forces to do that. The reason IED attacks in Iraq have been less effective in recent months is the attacks of US and Iraqi forces that have killed or captured the bomb makers. Their replacements are less skilled and their materials for making bombs is becoming more scarce. Those are militarily significant attacks.

The attacks on non combatants do not effect our military's ability to function and in fact push more Iraqis to our side. In the hearts and mind battle they are a real loser. That is why the tips leading to actionable intelligence are way up in Iraq.

The attacks on non combatants do have significance for those who want to lose the war, because they become an excuse. To the extent that the attacks help elect anti war candidates in this country they are a problem beyond killing of innocents.

I would add that I did not advocate not reporting on the attacks at all. I was advocating reporting them in the context of obituaries. If they must be reported on the front page, then it should be in the context of the wickedness of the enemy and not in the context of the failure to prevent the wickedness. By reporting the attacks the way the media did on these stories, the media is giving the enemy incentive to further wickedness.

Congessman Murtha has wrongly argued that our troops being in Iraq is prevoking violence. The evidence is to the contrary, since the enemy is actively avoiding contact with our forces. On the other hand, the media coverage is clearly rewarding the enemy's wickedness and contributing to future violence. If the media got as upset with the enemy's murder of noncombatants as it did with the hazing at Abu Ghraid, this war would be almost over.

Posted by Neo-andertal at April 8, 2006 5:12 PM ET:

Peter Paraschos

"The problem with Hersh isn't that he's wrong or frequently mistaken, as you point out. It's that he always includes some nugget, some piece of the puzzle, some clue that proves useful putting the big picture together.
The hard part is sifting the chaff to get the wheat."


Yes, I agree with your assessment of Hersh. He is good at digging up those nuggets of inside information that cannot be found elsewhere. My problem is how he abuses the information. He definitely, does not let his information and sources speak for themselves, or give the reader any honest assessment of what is central information. He shamelessly mixes hard fact with fuzzy conjecture and innuendo. He also freely projects his own thoughts into his sources.

Posted by Merv Benson at April 8, 2006 11:07 PM ET:

I know I can't invalidate your feelings.

I am convinced that if there was no coverage of the carnage, they would have no military reason to do it. Killing non combatants does nothing for them militarily. The killing of noncombatants is intended to have a political effect. The media should not help them achieve their political objective, because ultimately the media is also targeted by the same people.

Have you noticed that the people who oppose the war on terror in this country do not want pictures shown of what happened on 9-11, but they have no objection to the showing of the carnage caused by exploding Islamist? There is a reason why they have those positions.

Posted by hamidreza at April 9, 2006 2:52 AM ET:

Neo-andertal,

Thanks for your insightful analysis of the agenda driven modus operandi of Seymour Hersh.

At least Debka File, unlike Hersh, makes no pretentions to being an unbiased web journal.

Posted by Lee at April 9, 2006 12:13 PM ET:

Hamidreza,

Your comment below is correct. All of the anti-war protestors are vicious and Totally EVIL in their lack of understanding of the Islamist menace. They may even have misguided ideas of helping people, but their stupidity about Islamism is boundless. In the U.S.A. they are usually DemoncRats.

"Have you noticed that the people who oppose the war on terror in this country do not want pictures shown of what happened on 9-11, but they have no objection to the showing of the carnage caused by exploding Islamist? There is a reason why they have those positions".