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Al-Qaida: Baghdad Bombs Retaliation for Shiite 'Insults'

Friday, 05 Nov 2010 11:47 AM


BAGHDAD — Al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate said on Friday it was behind car bombings against Shiites in Baghdad this week that killed 64 people, saying they were revenge for "insults" and threatening more attacks.

The claim drew a strong reaction from the representative of Iraq's most respected Shiite cleric, saying it aimed to drag the country into new sectarian conflict.

In a statement on the Al-Hanein jihadi website, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said Tuesday's attacks were to avenge "insults" against Aisha, the wife of Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

The "mujahedeen conducted a new campaign to avenge the mother of the believers and companions of the prophet, after the Shiites had poured insults on her," the statement said.

In late September, Yasser al-Habeeb, a Kuwaiti Shiite living in Britain, made disparaging remarks about Aisha on television, calling her "an enemy of God."

Shiites disapprove of Aisha for leading a battle in 656 AD against Ali, the figurehead of the Shiite sect.

The representative of Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said the aim of Tuesday's attack was to inflict as many casualties as possible and inflame sectarian war.

"It was clear who they were targeting; it was not random," Ahmed al-Safi said in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala.

"In addition to their goal of killing as many as they can they have another aim -- dragging the country into street fighting and sectarian war,"

And Al-Qaeda has promised more violence against Shiites.

Tuesday's attacks were "only one day, but there will be many more like it filled with blood, and the odour of death will not leave" the Shiites, the ISI statement said.

Shiites and Sunnis represent the vast majority of Muslim believers. Their theological and cultural differences are a source of tension between them and have brought them to blows over the centuries.

This occurred in 2006 and 2007 in Iraq, after Sunni militants bombed a Shiite shrine in Samarra, touching off inter-confessional fighting that cost tens of thousands of lives.

Al-Qaeda draws its militants from among Sunni Muslims. It was a key player in the 2006-2007 violence, which has tapered off radically in recent years.

Meanwhile, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said fatwas, or religious decrees, by extremist Sunnis were responsible for the car bombings and last Sunday's Al-Qaeda attack on a Baghdad church that killed 46 worshippers.

"Fatwas issued by some takfiris (apostates) ... is the reason for what happened at the church and the other attack," Sadr said in a statement sent by his office.

"Those kinds of fatwas weaken Islam. Let them direct their anger at their American and Israeli enemies, not on the poor and enduring people," he said, reiterating his call for US forces to quit Iraq.

He also condemned the church attack, echoing remarks by Safi who said Christians must be allowed to live in peace in Iraq.

"We reject and condemn the targeting of churches, and this cannot be accepted.

"Protection must be provided for them (Christians), and they have to be able to live in their country," Safi said.

Iraqi security officials said 12 booby-trapped vehicles and four other bombs in Shiite districts of Baghdad had all exploded within minutes in the late Tuesday attack.

On Sunday, Al-Qaeda gunmen stormed into a Christian cathedral in the heart of Baghdad and took dozens of worshippers hostage. When the drama was ended by a raid of Iraqi special forces, 46 Christians had been killed and 60 wounded.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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