Sunnis Protest Mosque Raid
There was a large (1000 to 1500 strong) demonstration in the Yarmouk quarter of Baghdad against a US raid on two mosques in the district on Friday. The Guardian reported that Iraqi police and US troops raided the Ibn Taimiyah Mosque in the southwestern Yarmouk quarter of Baghdad on Thursday and arrested its prayer leader, Shaikh Mahdi Salah al-Sumaidi, a member of the Supreme Council for Religious Guidance along with 20 of his helpers. The US military spokesman maintained that they found a large weapons cache in the mosque, not only machine guns but also rocket propelled grenades.
The US says that it had received many tips over the past few months that the mosque was being used as a weapons storehouse by guerrillas. The siege and operation lasted 7 hours. On Friday, US troops carried out a similar raid on the Umm al-Tubul Mosque in Yarmouk, arresting the shaikh and 34 others. The mosque was the site of a meeting of the religious Sunni Arab leadership. Many machine guns and other munitions were found. The US maintained, according to az-Zaman /AFP that some of those arrested were not Iraqis. Abd al-Sattar al-Janibi, deputy head of the Supreme council for the Sunnis, admitted that there had been weapons in the mosque, but said that all Iraqi mosques had weapons in them intended for self defense given the poor security situation. Rifles, I could believe. But an anti-aircraft missile and grenades?
Still, the US Army could have done itself a favor here by just sending in Iraqi police to do this job and not having GIs invade a mosque.
Ibn Taimiyah (1268-1328). (for whom one of the mosques was named), by the way, was a horrible person and an important source of intellectual bigotry in the subsequent Sunni tradition, who has been revived and made a hero by Sunni Islamists in modern times. If I were involved in counter-insurgency I’d pretty much have all buildings named after Ibn Taimiyah searched. But let Iraqis do it.