Catfish and Cod
Saturday, August 30, 2003
(Link path: Shi'a Pundit)
Shi'a Pundit, along with recent arrests, has convinced me that al-Sadr is unlikely to have been responsible for the attack on al-Hakim and the Imam Ali Mosque (as I earlier believed -- that should teach me not to come to snap judgments). While al-Sadr is fully willing and capable of al-Hakim's assassination, he would be most unlikely to have damaged the Mosque itself. It's not just al-Hakim's current power base, but also al-Sadr's future potential power base. Attacking it would be political (and to some extent religious) suicide.
No, it's more likely to be just who the Iraqi police claim -- an alliance of disgruntled Ba'athists and al-Qaeda scum. Being Sunni extremists, they would have less of a problem with killing Shi'a. (Especially if they were from Pakistan, a place that seems to be more prone to Sunni/Shi'a violence. Please correct me if I am wrong.) Moreover, they would delight in the violence and chaos for its own sake -- and for the heartache that it would cause the American occupiers. al-Qaeda's long-term goal is to make the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq a failure; to destabilize Iraq and make it a hellhole, so that Iraqis and all other Arabs can learn to hate Americans.
Many Americans, out of ignorance, ask "What's the difference between al-Qaeda and every other Muslim?" Many Muslims, out of a misplaced sense of brotherhood and out of support for al-Qaeda's less odious goals, ask the same thing. In actions like those taken on Friday, it becomes possible to distinguish al-Qaeda and their terrorist brethren from all other Muslims. Terrorists like al-Qaeda don't care.
All Shi'a, including al-Hakim and al-Sadr (who are quite willing to use violence for political purposes in other venues), would never attack the Ali Mosque. They respect and revere it as a holy site. The American Army does likewise: it avoids posting guards near the Mosque, and took great pains not to shell it during the invasion. They did this out of concern over the feelings of Iraqi citizens, not out of any religious sympathy for the Mosque. Nonetheless, they did it, because they respected the status that others placed on the Mosque.
But al-Qaeda, and especially the butchers like the ones that killed Ayatollah al-Hakim, don't care about what value anyone else places on anything, except how it serves their ends. They're perfectly willing to defile anything, commit sacrilege anywhere, destroy or attack anyplace -- as long as it serves their ends.
In the attack on the embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam, we learned that al-Qaeda did not respect the rules of diplomacy.
In the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, we learned that they did not respect the Western militaries.
In the attack of the Eleventh of September, we learned that they did not respect Western commerce or culture, or the injunctions against suicide.
In the multitude of attacks on Afghan women, we learned that they did not respect the female sex, or any of the rights granted them by Allah or by modern society.
In the attack on Bali, we learned (again) that they reject the concept of being an innocent, a concept as firmly rooted in Islamic morality as Western morality.
In the attacks on Pakistan, Algeria, and Morocco, we learned that they did not respect other Muslim governments, or other Muslim peoples.
In the attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, we learned that they did not respect those who came with honest (and anti-American!) intentions to help suffering Muslims.
In the attack on al-Hakim and the Imam Ali Mosque, we learned that they did not respect the sanctity of holy places, the idea of peaceful politics, or the idea of a better Iraq.
So what do they respect? No person and no ideas except their own. Because of their ideology, they are driven to attack anyone and anything that offends them. That means that everyone and everything that is not allied to al-Qaeda is in their gunsights. The longer that al-Qaeda operates, the more clearly everyone will see the truth of their ideas and motives. That is why, in the long run, they will never succeed in creating the world they envision.