Disputed Assassination attempt on Sistani
Alissa Rubin of the LA Times reports that there are conflicting stories about whether Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was the victim of an attempted assassination attempt on Thursday. Two Shiite members of the Interim Governing Council told her that they were briefed that there was such an attack. On the other hand, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq denied that an attack took place.
The office of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is also denies the report, broadcast Thursday by Saba, the US-sponsored news agency in Iraq, that his car was sprayed by machine gun fire as he was leaving his office to return home.
I should think that whether there is a car in Najaf near Sistani’s office full of holes made by machine gun fire would be possible to verify.
But I think the bottom line is that Sistani would know whether the attempt was made or not. Either it simply did not happen, or he is lying about the incident to forestall ethnic violence or to avoid giving the impression of vulnerability, given his attempt to intervene in the shape of Iraqi elections.
I believe in Occam’s Razor, and the simplest explanation that accounts for all the known facts is that the assassination attempt was an urban rumor that got going in Najaf and was unfounded, but circulated to the IGC and thence to Saba News.
[A reliable eyewitness who was in Najaf on Thursday writes me from Iraq: “ I did not hear anything about Sistani being attacked, and this certainly would have been news. I actually went by Sistani’s house Thursday evening (around 6:30pm) and things were very calm.”]