Muqtada al-Sadr Warns He will Unleash Kamikaze Bombers if Najaf is Attacked
Bulgarian Soldier Killed in Clash at Karbala
ash-Sharq al-Awsat: Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Mahdi Army militia, said in his Friday prayers sermon at the Kufa mosque on Friday that he will resort to the use of suicide bombings in confronting the American-led Coalition if they launched an attack on the city of Najaf.
At the same time, his supporters in the city of Karbala clashed with Coalition forces, killing one Bulgarian soldier. Five of the Sadrist fighters were wounded, along with 4 civilians and one Iranian. AP reports, ‘ Militiamen attacked a military convoy made up of Polish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian and Latvian soldiers near city hall in the center of Karbala around the time of weekly Muslim prayers, said Lt. Col. Robert Strzelecki, spokesman for Camp Babylon, the main Polish base. Gunmen and soldiers exchanged fire . . . On Wednesday and again Thursday, the coalition base in Karbala, known as Camp Kilo, was pounded with rebel mortar rounds. No one was injured, the division reported. ortar attacks on coalition bases throughout south-central Iraq – including those in Karbala, Najaf and Hillah – have grown more frequent in recent weeks. ‘ [Dutch troops came under mortar fire in Samawah Friday, and such exchanges seem to be routine if under-reported.]
Muqtada said to thousands of worshippers who crowded the mosque that Najaf “will never fall to the hand of the Occupiers.” He added, “The men of the resistance will spill their own blood in defending their holy city.” He said that numerous men and women had come to him asking permission to implement a suicide bombing.
He went on to say that he had repeatedly requested them to wait, but if an attack on “our cities”or on the Shiite religious authorities took place, they will transform into time bombs and will not stop until they have demolished the forces of “the enemy.”
Muqtada likened the situation in Iraq to the condition of the Palestinians, saying that Iraqis “confront the same enemies and they must unite to defeat them.” He added that the Iraqis must “unite their ranks for the sake of a common goal, that is, the liberation of their country.”
The thronging crowds chanted slogans in support of Muqtada and criticizing not only the occupation forces but also the Interim Governing Council, whom they branded infidels.
Al-Sadr said that Najaf had survived wars all through history but tht it had always “emerged victorious.” He observed, “The British were altogether unable to subdue Najaf, and nor had the Ottoman Turks, and nor will the American occupation succeed in razing it.”
The Washington Post quoted more of his sermon: ‘ “My goal is to liberate Iraq,” Sadr said, calling on Arab nations to support the insurgency. He equated the plight of Iraqis to that of Palestinians and vowed to avenge Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi this month “by act, not speech.”
The WP noted that clerics are weighing in on the other big current crisis, as well:
‘ In prayers at another major mosque in Baghdad, a Sunni cleric warned U.S. commanders not to launch another attack on Fallujah. “We warn you against another massacre in Fallujah,” said Ahmed Abdul-Ghafoor Samaraie. “If there will be more bloodletting and more people killed in Fallujah, one hundred Fallujahs will stand against you.” ‘