Tuesday, April 6
Muqtada al-Sadr - young Iraqi Shi'ite cleric, son of a grand ayatollah (wiki)
Al-Sadr's followers have battled coalition troops in Baghdad and today took control of the holy city of Najaf, a coalition source said. Al-Sadr's followers control the governor's office, police stations and the Imam Ali mosque, one of Shi'ite Muslim's holiest shrines.
Sadr followers (several thousand of them) have also taken over international police stations and governorate buildings in Kufa, Nassiriya, Ammara, Kut, and Basrah. Policemen have sided with the Shi'ite insurgents in these cities.
This marks the first major Shi'ite resistance in Iraq against the American troops. To this point, most resistance has come from the Sunnis, particularly in the Sunni triangle around Baghdad, who were favored under the Saddam regime.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - Senior al-Qaida operative, Jordanian/Sunni terrorist (wiki)
Foreign officials suspect al-Zarqawi of planning the March 2 bombings in Iraq that killed at least 181 Shi'ite Muslims and the March 11 bombings in Madrid that killed at least 190 Spaniards. Ansar al-Islam, the Iraqi-based terrorist group to which al-Zarqawi is linked, has often attacked Iraqi targets - Shi'ite pilgrims or Iraqi police - with the aim of sowing discord and perhaps civil war. Al-Zarqawi and seven other Arabs were sentenced to death in a Jordanian military court today for the murder of American diplomat Laurence Foley. In a tape released today, a man claiming to be al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for recent attacks against Shi'ites and pledged attacks on American leaders and troops in Iraq.
Sunni and Shi'ite Iraqis unite in growing resistance (Washington Post)
Like complaints about home searches that leave Iraqis feeling defiled and humiliated, disappointment with
the Governing Council is a grievance that binds many Iraqis. The panel is widely condemned as dominated
by exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress leader more highly regarded by Pentagon
officials than in Baghdad. The complaint gained new energy when Shiite clerics began a campaign against
sections of the "basic law" the council produced with U.S. oversight as a basis for a constitution.
Iraq maps ( small | large | war )
Added April 13:
U.S. Marine siege of Fallujah produces a powerful backlash in Baghdad (Washington Post)
President's press conference on Iraq (with video @whitehouse.gov)
"A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make America more secure."
"They're not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either. They do want us there to
help with security, and that's why this transfer of sovereignty is an important signal to send, and it's why it's
also important for them to hear we will stand with them until they become a free country."
Added April 19
Spain pulls out of Iraq
From Al-Jazeera:Bush or al-Sadr; who sounds more committed to Democracy?
al-Sadr: "They say freedom and democracy and yet they appoint a government.
Appointment cannot agree with freedom and democracy."
|Added April 21:
Bombings in Basra Kill 68, al-Qaeda suspected by Coalition