Thursday :: Nov 25, 2004

Wahhabi Spoken Here


by pessimist

It isn't bad enough that Iraqis have to endure assaults from the United States. They are apparently getting it indirectly from Saudi Arabia as well.

Iraqi Shias have been encountering the most radical Wahhabists in the area south of Baghdad becoming known as 'The Triangle of Death' for all of the killings of Iraqis and foreigners there. From the description of the events which are reported, it's sounding like the long-rumored Muslim civil war in Iraq has already broken out.


Iraq's Forbidding 'Triangle of Death'

"Everyone's scared of Latifiyah," said Rahman Abdullah, 35, as he dragged on a cigarette.

In the past, during the annual three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Abdullah made 10 trips to Najaf or Karbala. This year, Abdullah made three trips during Eid last week, and his white minivan was usually half-empty. "It used to be that before you would finish your tea, the van was already full," Abdullah said, standing on a buckling sidewalk. "Now all you do is sit and drink tea -- today, tomorrow and then the next day."

A particularly militant strain of Sunni Islam within the insurgency, Wahhabism, has chilled many Shiites. To the most ardent of the insurgents, Shiites are heretics, even apostates, for the prominence they give Ali, the prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, who Shiites, unlike Sunnis, believe was Muhammad's divinely sanctioned heir. Under Islamic law, apostasy carries the death penalty.

Wahhabism is the belief system of the US ally al-Saud royal family - and US terrorist Osama bin Laden.

In a country where rumors often serve as news, accounts come up in conversation after conversation. Whatever their truth, they are believed. Last week, residents traded stories about a young man with long hair who was forced into a car by insurgents. His body showed up at his father's house a few days later, with a gunshot to the chest and some of his hair pulled from his scalp. A letter left on top of his corpse warned that death was the fate of those who disobey Islamic injunctions. Residents also spoke of a woman whose body was left in the street. Though she was wearing a veil, they said, she was apparently killed for wearing pants, which some deem un-Islamic.

"They act according to their own religious edict: If you kill a Shiite, you go to paradise," Assad Qassim said. He was following another van stopped by seven gunmen. They forced the young men to get out, then ordered them to insult Ali. Two men refused, he said, and were bundled off and apparently killed.

Abdullah was following a van carrying a coffin that was stopped at a checkpoint last month, destined for the vast Shiite cemetery in Najaf. The men at the checkpoint tossed the body on the street, doused it with gasoline and set fire to it, he said.

In several Shiite mosques, prayer leaders have denounced the killings in their sermons, and the bloodshed has unleashed fears of sectarian strife. The Mahdi Army militia of the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr is said to be operating in the region, and tribesmen whose relatives were among the 12 National Guard members killed by the insurgents rampaged through the area this month, burning four homes, residents said. In the southern city of Basra, a group calling itself the Brigades of Fury was formed this month, ostensibly to help protect pilgrims, the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported.

This is the country Bu$hCo continues to insist is under control, and that elections will occur there on schedule in January.

Why am I not convinced?


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