Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hakim’s Killer Arrested

Iran Daily: "Hakim’s Killer Arrested

NAJAF, Iraq,
March 15--Iraqi police said Tuesday they have arrested the man responsible for the August 2003 killing of Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Al-Hakim, as he prepared to attack another Shiite leader.
The suspect, a Kurd from the northern city of Mosul known only as Hashim, was arrested 10 days ago as he walked in the central shrine city of Najaf, said the city’s police chief, Major General Ghaleb Al-Jazairi, AFP reported.
Two others who were with Hashim managed to escape, he said.
“He was planning other attacks against the people of Najaf and Grand Ayatollah (Ali) Al-Sistani,“ said Jazairi, referring to the spiritual leader of the country’s majority Shiite community.
He said the plot against the 73-year-old Sistani, who rarely ventures out of his Najaf compound, involved booby-trapped briefcases containing cash from zakat (alms) given by the faithful and brought to his office.
Jazairi revealed that Hashim also planned to carry out suicide attacks near the mausoleum of Imam Ali (AS), the city’s most important shrine.
“Four others, including an Afghan national, took part in the August 29, 2003 car bombing outside the shrine in which, besides Hakim, over 80 died after the senior cleric delivered his weekly sermon,“ said Jazairi.
Hakim was killed months after returning to Iraq in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003 after 23 years in exile in Iran.
He was head of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the leading religious Shiite party in Iraq.
The party is led now by the late ayatollah’s brother, Abdul Aziz, and is a major component of the United Iraqi Alliance which swept January’s legislative elections.
Jazairi himself has drawn controversy after refusing an order from the interior ministry in January to give up his post and return to Baghdad, a move he said would threaten the safety of Najaf.
Jazairi assumed a high profile during the US-Iraqi assault in August against the Mehdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr by taking a tough stance on dealing with the armed group."