Heavy Exchange Of Fire Took Place

*A heavy exchange of fire took place between the volunteer Najaf police and an armed local clan on Friday morning. About ten men showed up, shooting off AK-47s in the area around the Imam Ali shrine. Two civilians were wounded in the skirmish. The attackers are also said to have thrown a hand grenade. Reuters says the men who launched the attack were themselves wanted suspects in the murder in early April of Abd al-Majid al-Khu’i (Khoei), a pro-American cleric. Two of the ten were apprehended, Mehr al-Baghdadi (who was slightly wounded in the leg) and a man called Ihsan.

Reuters says, That “after the men were taken into the police station, seven others stormed the station from a cemetery with AK-47s to try to free them.” The volunteer police pursued them into the cemetery, but apparently no further arrests were made.

The incident demonstrates the continuing danger that some saboteur will manage to harm the shrine of Imam Ali and get the US blamed for it, angering the world’s 120 million Shiites (and most other Muslims, as well).

*Al-Hayat reports that a Shiite cleric in Iraq, Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Baghdadi, has called for jihad against the US and British troops, on the grounds that he does not think they will cease their occupation any time soon. Likewise, the head of the Guardianship Council in Iran, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, said on Friday according to wire services, ”I urge the Iraqi people to remain united, follow clerics, make nonstop efforts to expel the enemy from Iraq’s unsoiled land and establish an Islamic government … This is the way. They (Iraqis) should learn from Iran’s Islamic revolution.”

In contrast, the young Najaf leader Muqtada al-Sadr forbade action against the coalition troops at this time, because of an “imbalance of forces.” Likewise, the Sunni mosque preacher of Falluja called on his townsmen to stop trying to fight the US troops there, since it is impossible for the locals to defeat US tanks and “they will kill you.”

On report I saw (by Mohamed Hasni of Middle East Online) claimed that Muqtada believes in the theory of wilayah or the rule of the clerics, along the lines of Khomeini.