Wednesday, October 22, 2003

THE SPIRIT OF RAMADAN: Searching for 'Ramadan' at Google News can be fun. Some of the uplifting stories you'll find.

  • U.S. plans to lift Baghdad curfew for Ramadan

  • Jakarta to stop forced evictions during Ramadan

  • Chirac named as best date in Cairo


  • But than there's this story: Plan to arrest maverick Iraqi cleric for murder
    Coalition and Iraqi officials are preparing an arrest warrant for the firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr over his alleged involvement with the brutal murder of a rival cleric last spring, sources close to the Iraqi governing council told the Guardian yesterday. The warrant, which has yet to be finalised, cites Mr Sadr for instigating a deadly attack on Abdel Majid al-Khoei, who was stabbed to death by a mob in the Shia holy city of Najaf on April 10.

    ....It is said to be signed by Tahir Jalil Habboush - a senior mukhabarat officer under the former regime who now works with the coalition authorities - and is based on the confessions of 23 men who were involved in the killing. "The belief of the coalition is that al-Sadr is not containable," the council source said. "They believe there is enough evidence that Muqtada was involved in the Khoei assassination and want to act to clip his wings before he can cause any more damage."

    ..."If they go down to Najaf to arrest him, his house will be surrounded by a human shield, and there would be a massacre before they get him," said Murtadha Nouri, a journalist with the newspaper Al-Adala. He warned that the planned showdown could backfire: "Given the antipathy towards the US, that could well play into his hands."

    ...The bulk of the evidence against Mr Sadr is understood to be based on confessions from 23 men arrested after the attack. Three are reported to have confessed to the stabbing while another 20 said they prevented Mr Khoei from seeking help while bleeding to death. Under questioning, they admitted receiving direct instructions from the young cleric, the source said.
    What's next? Desecrating Qu'rans? No, it couldn't be.

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