Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Najaf cemetery witness to Iraq's tragic history

Many of my relatives are buried in this cemetery, including my mother's aunt, who died as a result of sanctions in 1991.

The Associated Press

'Pictures of the two brothers stare out, side by side, separated by the gulf of a quarter century. Rahim Jabr died in 1981, a foot soldier in the bloody eight year war with Iran, while Naeem was a casualty of the savage sectarian fighting that gripped Baghdad in 2006.

They were reunited in the end, their tombstones placed side by side surrounded by a decorative metal cage in the vast Shiite graveyard of Najaf in southern Iraq.

There is no holier place on earth for Shiites to be buried than this city of the dead, stretching to the horizon from the doorstep of the tomb of Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and Shiite Islam's most sacred martyr. While Sunnis put their dead in local plots, Shiites for a 1,000 years have been burying their fallen here and everyone has at least one relative in the graveyard.

That has made it a kind of map to Iraq's history, at least that of its Shiite majority. Its natural disasters, wars and tragedies are etched across the tombstones densely packed into every square foot of the dusty, sun-blasted expanse.

The violence that has overwhelmed Iraq since 2003, much of it directed against Shiites, fed a massive expansion of the graveyard, swelling it by 40 percent to about three square miles (7.5 square kilometers) - triple the size of the U.S.'s Arlington National Cemetery - according to Ihsan Hamid Sherif, the official in charge of receiving bodies.

But in a measure of the country's gradual return to stability, those working at the cemetery say in recent years the flood of bodies has slowed.

"We used to receive 200 to 250 bodies a day, now it's less than a hundred," said Najah Abu Seiba, the patriarch of a family that have been gravediggers here for three centuries. "We used to work 24 hours a day."

At least 85,000 Iraqis were killed from 2004 to 2008, according to a report by Iraq's Human Rights Ministry last fall, although those figures are considered a minimum and do not encompass the entire length of the war. The figures included Iraqi civilians, military and police from all the country's sects and ethnicities.

On a recent day this month, the cemetery was peaceful, the wind whipping colorful flags flying over the graves, with only the occasional three-wheeled transports buzzing by, taking relatives to graves.

"My mother, father and brothers are buried here," said Mouayed Hamed al-Lami as he brought the wife of his uncle to be buried in the cemetery's newer section. His relatives clambered out of the minibus hired to carry the body from Baghdad, a three hour drive away.

"We are burying her here because it is the place of Imam Ali," he said, gesturing at the distant golden dome of the tomb shrine. "It is the closest place to heaven."

The violence has not ended completely. That same day, 119 people died across Iraq in bombings that mostly targeted Shiites. So by evening, minibuses stacked with coffins of many of the victims began pouring into Najaf.'


Al-Qaeda Denies World Cup Terror Plot Allegation

The Saudi slime ball was chief of Al Qaeda's security in Baghdad. That's funny.

'Al-Qaeda in Iraq denied it was planning to attack the soccer World Cup in South Africa, a week after officials in Baghdad said they had captured a member of the group who confessed to plotting a terrorist act there.

“We deny this news entirely,” the group said late yesterday in a statement posted on websites used by al-Qaeda. It described the charges as empty allegations and said its “dreams and aspirations” didn’t stretch as far as Johannesburg.

Iraq’s Baghdad Military Command announced in a televised news conference on May 17 the capture of an al-Qaeda member, who it said had worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to Osama bin Laden, “to plot terrorist attacks during the World Cup.”

The suspect was identified as Abdullah Azzam Saleh al- Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian national described as chief of the group’s security in Baghdad. The Iraqi military said he was a lieutenant in the Saudi army and had entered Iraq in 2004.'

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saudi detained in Iraq wanted to attack Danish and Dutch at World Cup

'An alleged al-Qaida militant detained in Iraq said Tuesday he had talked to friends about attacking Danish and Dutch teams at the World Cup in South Africa next month to avenge insults against the Prophet Muhammad.

Iraqi security forces holding Saudi citizen identified as Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani arranged for The Associated Press to interview him at an unidentified government building in Baghdad. He said he initially came to Iraq in 2004 to fight Americans and was recruited by al-Qaida."

..."We discussed the possibility of taking revenge for the insults of the prophet by attacking Denmark and Holland," al-Qahtani told The AP. "The goal was to attack the Danish and the Dutch teams and their fans," he added.

"If we were not able to reach the teams, then we'd target the fans," he said, adding that they hoped to use guns and car bombs.'

"terrorist in a bikini"

'SRIFA, Lebanon — Newly-crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih is the pride of her native village, with residents saying the Lebanese-American not only brought honour to southern Lebanon but also offered a different image of Shiite Muslims often stereotyped as radicals.

"She is an honour to us, a honour to all of southern Lebanon," her paternal aunt Afifa Fakih Said told AFP in Srifa, the beauty queen's hometown.

Residents of the southern village watched 24-year-old Rima compete in three categories -- swimsuit, evening gown and interview -- before winning the Miss USA title on Sunday.

Proudly showing off her niece's photograph on the front page of local newspapers, her aunt Afifa offered baklava pastries to wellwishers pouring in to her home.

A supersized framed photograph of Rima, whose family is Shiite Muslim, earlier winning the Miss Michigan crown hangs in Afifa's living room.

"We are so often described as terrorists and killers, but we Shiites love life and beauty -- and mainly the beauty of the soul, which is what is so special about Rima," said the veiled 62-year-old, who speaks English and French fluently.

"In this family, we are open to all religions," she said. "We have no political affiliation to anyone."

...Despite her dark, cascading waves and toned body, the new Miss USA has come under fire by right-wing bloggers, who have dubbed her a "terrorist in a bikini."

"Don't let her lack of a headscarf and her donning a bikini in public fool you. Miss Michigan USA, Rimah (sic) Fakih is a Muslim activist and propagandist extraordinaire," wrote conservative political commentator Debbie Schlussel in her blog.

"It's a sad day in America but a very predictable one, given the politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate in which we?re mired," wrote Schlussel, who slammed Fakih as a "Hezbollah-supporting Shiite Muslim." '

Friday, May 14, 2010

No fraud according to election commission

"More than two months after Iraq's parliamentary polls, the electoral commission says it has ended a partial recount and found no cases of fraud."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

1400 Years of Backwards Law

Thanks Anonymous

"Resistance" continues to kill Iraqis

"A bomb in a parked car ripped through a Sadr City neighborhood Wednesday evening, killing seven young people who had gathered at a nearby cafe to drink tea and play dominoes, Iraqi officials said.

The attack comes just days after a string of shootings and bombings convulsed the country in Iraq's worst violence so far this year. The violence appears designed to stir up sectarian tensions at a time when Iraq still has no new government after inconclusive parliamentary elections and as U.S. troops prepare to go home."

The "resistance" killed Iraqis at yet another cafe just two days after a suicide bomber killed 55 Iraqis at a textile factory in Hilla. Meanwhile the 3arab jarab continue to drink Starbucks without worry in Riyadh, Doha, Cairo, Amman, and LA.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sistani says no political groups should be excluded

"Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Accountability and Justice Committee speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, May 5, 2010. Chalabi said Iraq's other political groups should be reassured by the fact that the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani the revered Shiite cleric in Iraq who's essentially the head of the marjaiyah has said no political groups should be excluded from the political process."

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Iraqi police face trial for lynching suicide bomber

My dad told me about this over the weekend. He said the footage made him embarrassed to be an Iraqi. I wonder now if he understood that the lynching victim was a failed suicide bomber. In my opinion they should not have killed him because they could have gained valuable intelligence from him.

'Iraqi police who appeared to lynch a failed suicide bomber in a beating broadcast by a satellite television station are to face human rights charges, the government said on Saturday.

Graphic pictures of the incident, which occurred on February 28, 2007 at the height of Iraq's sectarian clashes when security forces were being targeted daily, have been shown after every news bulletin since Thursday evening.

The violent footage on Sharqiya television showed police officers stamping on the foiled bomber's head and kicking his body. They then danced and fired weapons in celebration.

A statement from the interior ministry, responsible for the police, said an inquiry recommending prosecutions had been approved and "anyone involved in the violation of human rights will be sent to court to receive proper punishment."

"The (internal) investigation committee presented the results of their work to the minister himself and he approved it," it said.'