Thursday, April 10, 2003

Khazraji RIP?
Thanks to Kendall Harmon for pointing me to this Arab News story:

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: from Arab News War Correspondent in Najaf, Iraq; filed 2 pm GMT; April 10: Former Iraqi general Nizar Al-Khazaraji and Islamic scholar Majid Al-Khoi'i have both been executed by Iraqi residents of Najaf, according to five independent Iraqi witnesses to the incident who spoke to Arab News, the only foreign publication with a correspondent in the city today. The two potential Iraqi leaders of the city, who were supported by the US, 'were afterwards chopped into pieces with swords and knives inside the Ali Mosque this morning by Iraqis who accused them of being American stooges," one of the witnesses said. Another said that a US Special Force Soldier, who had been acting as their body guard, was also killed in the incident.

Arab News is a branch of the Al-Sharq al-Awsat operation, and it is maybe significant that Maan Fayyad, a journalist at the paper, was a witness to the al-Kho'i assassination (he was also injured in the attack). For that story click here.

Arab News also has an earlier story claiming that there were three factions vying for influence in Najaf: one controlled by Kho'i, a second by Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and a third by Khazraji.

Two things are worth noting: only Arab News has mentioned Khazraji in the melee; and it is not clear what Khazraji, a Sunni, would have been doing in the shrine of the Imam Ali at a gathering of Shiite mullahs--one of whom was a former Saddam man, whose presence allegedly triggered the violence. The story sounds bizarre to me.

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