Najaf Update: February 9, 2007
According to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram, there is a claim by an Iraqi parliamentarian that as many as 1,500 people may have been killed in last week’s fighting near An-Najaf. The nature of the groups engaged there and their leadership remains a matter of uncertainty.
by Nermeen Al-Mufti
According to independent parliamentarian Mohammad Al-Deini, Iranian agents are trying to distract attention from killings in Najaf. According to Al-Deini, the Iraqi army, backed by US forces, shelled an Arab tribal convoy as it was proceeding to Najaf to participate in Imam Al-Husein celebrations. Most of the victims were from Al-Hawatemah tribe, a Shia clan known to oppose Iranian intervention in Iraq. Al-Deini believes that the hidden imam story was a cover-up for a far more gruesome affair. Up to 1,500 people may have been killed in Najaf, he added.
News agencies have conducted interviews with eyewitnesses from Al-Hawatemah tribe. The eyewitnesses confirmed that their clan is Shia-Arab. Clashes, eyewitnesses said, began when the car transporting the clan’s chief and his wife approached a checkpoint ahead of Najaf on the festival of Ashura. The chief was about to explain to the soldiers manning the checkpoints that the authorities had approved their trip, but before he had the chance to make his point shots were fired. The chief, identified as Sheikh Saad Al-Nayif, his wife and his driver were killed. The rest of the clan, who were armed with machineguns for protection, had no option but to return the fire, the eyewitnesses said.
A source from Jund Al-Samaa said that the group was a peaceful one and took no part in the fighting. But an official source claimed that Jund Al-Samaa was an “ungodly” group and with a leader who managed to convince poor and uneducated young men that he was the hidden imam. The leader had given the young men his book, Qadi Al-Samaa (The Judge of Heavens), in which he claims that one of the signs of the appearance of the hidden imam was the killing of top religious scholars. Reporters in south Iraq cited members of impoverished families as confirming that their sons were members of Jund Al-Samaa and had gone to Zarka before the clashes broke out.
Jund Al-Samaa (wikipedia)
See also: Keyword ‘Najaf’ on scanlyze
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
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