Friday, February 16, 2007

U.S.-Iraqi forces raid Baghdad's major mosque for 'kidnapping, torture and murder activities'

The Baratha mosque is considered the 5th holiest in the Muslim world. Ancient legend ties it to visits by the 70 prophets, including Abraham, and some say it was visited by Mary and Joseph, or even Jesus in the 'lost years'. In April of last year scores were killed in a triple car bombing there. The mosque is associated with SCIRI (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq), the nation's largest political block, headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, whose militia is the Badr Brigade. The U.S. military says it was targetted for 'illegally armed militia kidnapping, torture and murder activities'.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. military spokesman on Thursday hailed a joint American-Iraqi raid on Baghdad's leading Shiite Muslim mosque as proof of that the Baghdad security plan is being applied evenly against all sides of the country's sectarian divide.

The raid, which took place Wednesday, angered the mosque's imam, who took the unusual step of canceling Friday prayer services at the historic Baratha mosque, where, Shiites believe, Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, converted a Christian missionary to Islam in the seventh century.

Sheik Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a member of parliament from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, denounced the raid, which the U.S. military said had turned up a cache of illegal weapons. The Supreme Council is one of Iraq's largest political parties and part of its governing coalition.

Read the rest at Real Cities

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