Iraqi Terror Group Plans More Bombings
The leaders of Iraq’s most notorious terrorist group recently held a secret meeting in neighboring Syria, where they plotted the recent wave of insurgent violence that has killed hundreds of people and was intended to break the postelection lull in violence, a top U.S. military official said.
The Syrian meeting, possibly attended by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi himself, has led to one of the bloodiest periods since the U.S.-led invasion two years ago. Nearly 500 people have been killed Ã¢€” including an Oil Ministry employee gunned down in front of his house Thursday Ã¢€” since the country’s new Shiite-dominated government was announced April 28. Several Shiite and Sunni Muslim clerics were among the victims, raising fears that sectarian tensions could ignite a civil war.
Amid the violence, Iran’s foreign minister met Thursday with Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric in the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad. Kamal Kharrazi, the highest level official from any of Iraq’s six neighbors to visit Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s ouster two years ago, met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. No details were available, but both men have called for calm in Iraq amid an increased number of apparent tit-for-tat killings between the Shiite and Sunni populations.
Also this week, a chilling, rambling Internet audiotape purportedly by al-Zarqawi surfaced. It denounced Iraq’s Shiites as U.S. collaborators and said killing them is justified. “God ordered us to attack the infidels by all means … even if armed infidels and unintended victims Ã¢€” women and children Ã¢€” are killed together,” said the speaker purported to be al-Zarqawi. “The priority is for jihad so anything that slows down jihad should be overcome.” The tape could not immediately be authenticated.
The Iranian involvement is a positive sign. If the Shi’a leadership will unite against this violence, it may help galvanize the Iraqi public against it. Of course, the main perpetrators of the terrorist attacks are Sunnis.