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Re: [casi] Saddams men kill 40 in mosque fight

Dear Casi,

Whilst this may well be true, Marie Colvin is the master at unsourced, or
scantily sourced stories. The main  source for this is someone who lives in
a poor part of Baghdad - yet manages to get to Kurdistan and has access to a
satellite 'phone - a very expensive way indeed of communicating. Perhaps it
was paid for out of the $97 million - perhaps not, who knows. Being stopped
on the road and searched (south or north) is not unusual, indeed often
routine and since both roads have become very dangerous with banditry there
are increasing amounts of check points. Soldiers would patrol Mosques - and
more so on special holy days, The Kerbala mosque was the site of an
appalling bloody end to a stand off in 1991 after the US urged the south and
north to rise up - then abandoned those who did, so is specially sensitive.

I would also question whether soldiers would defile such a sensitive, holy
site - in 1991 the standoff went on for ten days before they went in to the
Mosque, for exactly that reason (I cautiously  believe this to be true,
since I have heard it from so many and so varied sources.)

As I say, may all be true, the Middle East is not Mary Poppins land, but I
have some reservations. best, f.

>From: "Yasser Alaskary" <>
>Subject: [casi] Saddams men kill 40 in mosque fight
>Date: Tue, May 28, 2002, 5:00 pm

>   The Sunday Times - World
> May 26, 2002
> Saddams men kill 40 in mosque fight
> Marie Colvin
> IRAQIS worshipping at one of Islams holiest shrines were attacked by
> Saddam Husseins security forces earlier this month in one of the worst
> recent
> examples of the oppression suffered daily by civilians living under his
> regime.
> While international attention remains largely focused on Saddams chemical,
> biological and nuclear weapons programmes, which threaten those outside his
> borders, little is known of the suffering of his population because the
> Iraqi
> president controls the countrys media with his characteristic iron grip.
> However, news of his forces onslaught against worshippers at the shrine of
> Imam Hussein in Karbala, which left up to 40 people dead, has filtered out
> because
> some survivors escaped to the relative freedom of Kurdistan, the no-fly zone
> patrolled by American and British planes in northern Iraq.
> The attack happened on the anniversary of the death of Hussein, the grandson
> of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Hussein was killed in the
> city of
> Karbala in the 7th century with 72 of his followers. He is particularly
> revered by
> followers of the Shiite branch of Islam, who mark the anniversary with
> mourning
> rites that include beating themselves publicly to show their sorrow.
> Thousands of Iraqis travel each year to the blue-tiled mosque in Karbala,
> where Hussein is buried. This year, security forces were out in strength as
> worshippers converged on the city, which Iraqi observers believe is a sign
> of
> Saddams increasing worry about his restive Shiite population.
> Saddam and his regime are Sunni, the minority branch of Islam in Iraq. In
> 1991, after Iraqs defeat in the Gulf war, the Shiite Muslims, who
> predominate in
> the south, led a revolt that was brutally crushed by the Republican Guard.
> Abu Fadi, whose full name is being withheld for fear of reprisals against
> his
> family, said by satellite telephone from Kurdistan that the security forces
> had
> made the journey to Karbala difficult before the violence at the mosque.
> Other
> Iraqi sources independently confirmed the events he described.
> He left his neighbourhood of Baghdad, a poor, largely Shiite area, at 6am
> with his two sons, aged seven and five, and joined other men packed into a
> private
> minibus that was to travel to Karbala.
> The bus was twice stopped at checkpoints manned by a mixture of regular
> soldiers, members of the ruling Baath party in their distinctive uniform
> and
> plainclothes security officials. Everyone in the bus was searched, as were
> others
> in the flood of vehicles heading south to Karbala, a journey that usually
> takes
> about an hour.
> Abu Fadi and his sons got as far as Aoun, seven miles short of Karbala, when
> they reached a barricade made with barrels and a long pole. It was manned by
> security forces, who barred the vehicles and told passengers they would
> continue
> at their own risk.
> I thought maybe I should turn back, because I had my two young sons with
> me, Abu Fadi said. But we had already travelled so far, and I wanted to
> touch
> the shrine of Imam Hussein, so I said, Let us continue walking. Thousands
> of
> people did the same. The road was very crowded.
> After little more than half a mile, the road became difficult to walk upon 
> security forces had spread a thick layer of sand sprayed with water.
> Military
> vehicles drove by on the edge of the road, but did not turn people back.
> Abu Fadi and his sons finally reached the mosque at 1pm, after stopping to
> rest several times. As he neared the shrine, he grew frightened. Inside the
> mosque, soldiers were stationed with guns, a sacrilege that angered many in
> the
> crowd. When young men began beating their chests as a sign of the emotion
> they
> felt at nearing the burial place of Hussein, the soldiers attacked.
> They began beating the people with the butts of their Kalashnikovs and
> megwaor (sticks with nails embedded at the end), Abu Fadi said. Everyone
> panicked. It seemed to me there was blood everywhere  screams and blood.
> He said he managed to crouch in an alcove where men leave their shoes when
> they enter the mosque. He saw at least seven people who he believes had been
> killed.
> One young man looked like he was sitting with his back to the wall but you
> could tell he was dead, said Abu Fadi, whose shocked sons escaped with him.
> His
> head was bloodied and his eyes were staring open. He was not breathing.
> Not a word of the incident was officially reported, but several sources in
> Karbala and Baghdad put the death toll at 40, based on reports from the
> hospitals
> in the city.
> The whole country has to celebrate the birthday of Saddam Hussein whether
> we
> want to or not, said Abu Fadi. Why should I be prohibited from celebrating
> the
> death of my Imam Hussein, this holy man?
> Iraqi sources said hit-and-run attacks on Saddams forces in the south had
> now increased to the point where even heavily armed Iraqi military convoys
> had
> stopped travelling at night. Opposition groups such as the Iraqi National
> Congress
> are working in exile to unseat Saddam. However, they believe that the
> population
> will need a firm sign of American military support before risking a general
> revolt.
>   [end of article]
>   if anyone can get today's sunday times, it has some interesting photos
> showing armed soldiers around imam husein's shrine.
> ahmed
> _________________________________________________
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