Destruction of Key Bridge Halts Southern Rails
Muqtada Aide Declares East Baghdad an American no-go Zone
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat: Guerillas blew up a key bridge just south of Baghdad Friday, halting rail traffic to four southern provinces from the capital, including Hilla, Amara, Nasiriyah, and Basra. Meanwhile, the port of Basra was unable to export any petroleum for the third day running because of pipeline sabotage.
On Thursday night into Friday morning, some Shiite forces were actually firing rockets, mainly aimed at other Shiite factions.
Shaikh Aws al-Khafaji, who is close to Muqtada al-Sadr, declared East Baghdad a no-go zone for the Americans. Addressing hundreds of worshippers at Friday prayers, al-Khafaji said, “I counsel you to take up holy war, and to apply pressure, with all severity, on the Americans. Announce that your city is a no-go zone for the American occupiers.”
Another aide to Muqtada, Shaikh Jabir al-Khafaji, the Friday prayer leader in Kufa, criticized interim President Ghazi al-Yawar for shaking hands with US President George W. Bush when al-Yawar visited Washington, DC, recently.
In Najaf, the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr prevented Sadr al-Din Qubanji, local representative of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, from leading Friday prayers at the shrine of Imam Ali for the third week running. Sadr spokesman Ahmad Shaibani justified the action, saying, “The Friday sermon has become politicized” and that “The seminary students have shouldered the responsibility for this issue after they consulted with the clergy.” Shaibani said he had earlier been under the impression that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had ordered that the Friday prayers be held at the shrine of Ali.
On another front, an Iraqi court issued an arrest warrant for Sheikh Abdul Karim Mahoud al-Muhammadawi, “Abu Hatim,” with regard to the killing of the police chief in Majar al-Kabir in mid-May.