*Breaking news. Nearly 100 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded by a hug car bomb blast in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq. Among the dead is Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, head since 1984 of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. His brother, Abdul Aziz, is a member of the Interim Governing Council appointed by the Americans. The blast occurred in front of the shrine to Imam Ali, which was slightly damaged.
It seems to me clear that this bombing was the work of Saddam loyalists. Baqir al-Hakim had waged a long terrorist and guerrilla war against the Baath. He cooperated with the Americans. When Saddam called on Shiite clergy to declare jihad on the US a couple of weeks ago, Baqir and others rejected the call forcefully and attacked Saddam as a tyrant. No believing Shiite would blow up a huge bomb right in front of Imam Ali’s shrine. The truck bomb has become a signature of the remnants of the Baath, as with the attack on the United Nations HQ. The Saddam loyalists may hope that Shiite factions will blame one another and fall to fighting an internal civil war, adding to the country’s ungovernability for the Americans.
More as details become available.