ISIS attack's death toll rises outside Iraq capital

The Associated Press

November 25, 2016

MOSUL, Iraq -- The death toll from a car bombing south of Baghdad claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, rose to 73 on Friday, including about 40 Iranian pilgrims, as Iraqi forces continued to inch closer to the center of the northern city of Mosul in street-to-street fighting east of the Tigris River.

Iraqi police and hospital officials said 65 other people were wounded in the Thursday night attack at a gas station on a major highway near the city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of the Iraqi capital.

It was the deadliest ISIS attack in Iraq since July, when a car bomb killed about 300 in a commercial district in Baghdad.

ISIS claimed the attack in a brief statement on its Aamaq media arm, saying it was a suicide truck bomb. Earlier, Iraqi officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, had put the death toll at 56.

The attack appears to have targeted a bus with Iranian pilgrims heading home after a major Shiite religious observance in the holy city of Karbala.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Thursday night as saying that 80 people were killed, including 40 Iranians. Conflicting death tolls are common in the aftermath of large attacks.

The attack came a day after some dozen small-scale bombings in and around Baghdad killed 31 people and wounded more than a 100 - a particularly bloody day even by the standards of the Iraqi capital, which has for more than a decade endured near-daily violence blamed on ISIS or its forerunner, al Qaeda in Iraq, and which mostly targeted members of Iraq’s Shiite majority.

The gas station bombing underlined the continuing ability of ISIS to stage high-profile terror attacks even as a massive Iraqi military operation is underway to dislodge its fighters from Mosul, its last major urban stronghold in Iraq. The offensive is aided by volunteer militiamen and the U.S.-led coalition, which has mostly been pounding ISIS targets in Mosul with airstrikes.

Moreover, Thursday’s ISIS bombing took place in Iraq’s Shiite hinterland south of Baghdad, a region that has largely been spared the near-daily violence that has for years engulfed the capital and Sunni regions.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Karbala, where he lavishly praised the country’s security forces for protecting the pilgrims against attacks by ISIS.

Extremist Sunni militants, including ISIS, view Shiites as heretics and routinely target Iranian pilgrims who visit Iraq by the hundreds of thousands to pay homage to major Shiite shrines in Baghdad, and also the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, south of Baghdad, and Samarra, to the north of the capital.

Shiite Iran is a major backer of the governments in Iraq and neighboring Syria in their fight against ISIS, providing military advisers and weapons.

“Let the vile Rafidha (Shiites) know that what awaits them in the near future, God willing, will be more painful and bitter and that the flames of the battles in Nineveh will reach them in Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf,” ISIS said in its statement. Nineveh is the northern Iraqi province where Mosul is the capital.

The Shiite observance in Karbala, called the al-Arbaeen, routinely attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, including many Iranians who travel overland into Iraq for the occasion. Several members of Iranian civil defense staff who had been in Karbala to offer assistance to Iranian pilgrims rushed to the gas station following the bombing, helping their Iraqi counterparts collect victims’ bodies and aiding the wounded. Iranian civil defense personnel typically accompany pilgrims on such trips to Iraq.

The Iraqi government’s campaign to retake Mosul began last month, but stiff ISIS resistance and concerns over the safety of civilians who remain inside the city have slowed the Iraqi forces’ progress.

Fighting continued in the eastern sector of Mosul on Friday, with Iraqi special forces seizing another neighborhood, Masaref, and advancing in the densely populated Zohour district, according to Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil. The offensive to capture Zohour began earlier this week, but troops are facing stiff ISIS resistance, he added.

On the ground in Mosul, the sound of automatic fire and the thud of mortar shells and artillery shook the city’s eastern sector, east of the Tigris River, on Friday.

An Associated Press team in the area said civilians fleeing the fighting continued to flow out of the inner parts of the city toward the lines of the Iraqi military. Off the back of a truck, soldiers offered them rice, potatoes and tomato sauce. In the Bakr neighborhood, civilians lined the streets. Old and young men looked on silently, while children smiled and waved to the troops.

Twin suicide bombing kills 70 in Baghdad's deadliest attack this year


February 28, 2016

A twin suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State killed 70 people in a Shi'ite district of Baghdad on Sunday in the deadliest attack inside the capital this year, as militants launched an assault on its western outskirts.

Police sources said the suicide bombers were riding motorcycles and blew themselves up in a crowded mobile phone market in Sadr City, wounding more than 100 people in addition to the dead.

A Reuters witness saw pools of blood on the ground with slippers, shoes and mobile phones at the site of the blasts, which was sealed off to prevent further attacks.

In a statement circulated online, Islamic State said it was responsible for the blasts: "Our swords will not cease to cut off the heads of the rejectionist polytheists, wherever they are," it said, using derogatory terms for Shi'ite Muslims.

Iraqi forces backed by airstrikes from a U.S.-led coalition have driven Islamic State back in the western Anbar province recently and are preparing for an offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul.

But the militants are still able to strike outside territory they control, often targeting members of Iraq's Shi'ite majority, most recently on Thursday when two Islamic State suicide bombers killed 15 people at a mosque in the capital.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the attacks were in response to Islamic State's recent defeats: "This gang targeted civilians after it lost the initiative and its dregs fled the battlefield before our proud fighters," he said on his official Facebook page.

At dawn on Sunday, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iraqi security forces in Abu Ghraib, seizing positions in a grain silo and a cemetery, and killing at least 17 members of the security forces, officials said.

Security officials blamed Islamic State, and a news agency that supports the group said it had launched a "wide attack" in Abu Ghraib, 25 km (15 miles) from the center of Baghdad and next to the international airport.

Footage circulated online by the Amaq news agency appeared to show Islamic State fighters crouching behind dirt berms and launching the attack with automatic rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Reuters could not verify the video's authenticity.

Security forces had mostly regained control by Sunday evening but officials said there were still clashes.

Baghdad-based security analyst Jasim al-Bahadli said the assault suggested it was premature to declare that Islamic State was losing the initiative in Iraq.

"Government forces must do a better job repelling attacks launched by Daesh. What happened today could be a setback for the security forces," he said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.


Army and police sources said the militants had attacked from the nearby Islamic State-controlled areas of Garma and Falluja, driving Humvees and pickup trucks fixed with machine guns.

A curfew was imposed as a regiment of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces was mobilized to retake the silo in Abu Ghraib and prevent the militants approaching the nearby airport, security officials said.

Iraqi army helicopters bombarded Islamic State positions in the and Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said at least 20 militants had been killed in the government's counter offensive.

Fighters from the Hashid Shaabi, a coalition of mainly Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias, were mobilized to Abu Ghraib to reinforce regular government forces in the area, said Jawad al-Tulaibawi, a local Hashid commander.

Powerful Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr also called on fighters loyal to him to be on alert to protect Baghdad. Shi'ite militias like Sadr's 'Peace Brigades' were seen as a bulwark against Islamic State's sweeping advance in 2014 which threatened Iraq's capital and its most sacred Shi'ite shrines.

Men brace for 'beard patrols' in Iraq's IS-held Mosu

By Jean-Marc Mojon
June 1, 2015 11:55

Baghdad (AFP) - Every time he looks in a mirror, Laith Ahmed is worried. As of Monday, the young Iraqi's hopelessly hairless chin could land him in an Islamic State group jail.

The jihadist group has handed out leaflets in their stronghold of Mosul in recent weeks announcing that full beards become compulsory on June 1 and explaining why shaving is punishable.

"My facial hair is just slow to come out for my age," said the 18-year-old, who like others in this story did not give his real name for fear of retribution.

"I'm scared because they deal ruthlessly with anyone who opposes or ignores their instructions," he told AFP from Mosul, the de facto Iraqi capital of IS's self-proclaimed caliphate.

"My work in a bakery means I have to leave home every day and interact with Daesh militants," he said, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.

Mosul is Iraq's second city and used to have a population of around two million before IS swept in a year ago and made it their main hub.

Unlike some of the other cities IS conquered in Iraq, Mosul still holds a large civilian population, making any air campaign difficult.

The group made Mosul a laboratory for its state-building experiment, not just a military bastion but a city where it regulates everything from education to the opening hours of shops.

"What hairdressers do today, shaving and trimming men's beards, is an accessory to sin," reads the leaflet, which quotes a selection of hadiths, or sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, supporting the claim that he banned shaving.

"Thanks to our brothers from the Islamic police, an order has been issued for the shaving of beards to be banned and violators to be detained," it says.

- Human shields -

Nadhim Ali, a 30-year-old taxi driver from the eastern side of the city, said he has never been able to grow a beard or even a moustache because of the bad skin rashes he gets.

He said he submitted medical reports on the matter to the religious police. "They didn't care... One of them told me I'd better stay at home if I shaved."

Moslawis are essentially trapped in their city.

Anyone wishing to leave needs approval from IS and has to deposit documents proving ownership, usually of property or a new car which will be seized if the applicant does not return by an assigned deadline.

"So just for ensuring my family's livelihood, I can choose between getting sick and risking lashes or arrest," said Ali.

The Taliban in Afghanistan had so-called "beard patrols" that could send men to jail for three days to a week simply for having trimmed their beard.

Mosul residents said a tougher beard policy imposed by IS one year into the group's occupation of the city was a ploy, not a sign of renewed religious zeal.

"We all know what Daesh is trying to achieve with these unacceptable laws on women wearing the veil and men growing beards," said a teacher, who gave her name as Umm Mohammed.

"They want to make everyone a human shield... With military operations (to retake Mosul) looming, they want to blend in with the population," she said.

Air strikes by Iraqi and US-led coalition warplanes have targeted IS positions and hideouts in the Mosul area since August 2014 but any effort to reclaim control of the city has yet to begin in earnest.

A former member of the security services who still lives in Mosul said IS militants had been adopting a lower profile in recent months.

"For example, IS members lately have been using more and more regular, unmarked civilian cars. They've ditched the military vehicles and flags," he said.

"This new rule on growing beards is in the same vein. They want to hide among civilians," he said.

63 killed in brutal Iraq post-election attacks

Agence France-Presse
May 28, 2014

Attacks across Iraq, including a spate of car bombs in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, killed 63 people Wednesday in the bloodiest violence to hit Iraq since April elections.

The worst of the blasts went off during the evening and left dozens of people wounded, fuelling fears a protracted surge in violence is pushing Iraq back into the brutal communal conflict that left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007.

The bloodletting comes as political leaders jostle to build alliances and form a government, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the driver's seat in his bid for re-election but still short of an overall majority in parliament.

Separate deadly sets of car bombs hit both the Iraqi capital and Mosul, in the north, in the evening.

In Baghdad's deadliest attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in the mainly Shiite neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah in north Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and wounding 50, security and medical officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Three other car bombs went off in the Amin, Sadr City and Jihad districts, killing a dozen more people.

The blasts were the latest in a trend of militants setting off vehicles rigged with explosives during the evening, when Baghdad's residents visit markets, restaurants and cafes.

Previously, such attacks had typically been timed to go off during morning rush hour.

Elsewhere in and around the capital, gun attacks and explosions killed three people, officials said.

In Mosul, one of the most violent areas of the country, twin car bombs set off by suicide attackers killed 21 people, including 14 soldiers and policemen, in the west of the city.

Also in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, two other attacks left two people dead.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Sunni militants including those linked to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant often set off coordinated bombings across Baghdad and other major cities, ostensibly in a bid to sow instability.

- Attacks in north -

Also in north Iraq, a series of 11 bombings in the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu killed five people, four of them members of the same family, and wounded 11.

The blasts targeted homes belonging to ethnic Turkmen.

The town, which is also populated by Arabs and Kurds, lies in a stretch of territory Kurdish leaders want to incorporate into their autonomous region over Baghdad's objections.

A soldier was also killed in Kirkuk province, which also lies in disputed land.

Insurgents often exploit poor communication between Arab and Kurdish security forces to carry out attacks in the area.

Shelling in the militant-held city of Fallujah, a short drive west of Baghdad, killed three more people, a day after Human Rights Watch criticised the government for possibly violating the laws of war by shelling the city's main hospital.

All of Fallujah and parts of nearby Anbar provincial capital Ramadi have been out of government hands since the beginning of the year.

Security forces have shelled Fallujah repeatedly for months.

They insist they are targeting militant hideouts, but human rights groups and residents say civilians are bearing the brunt of the bombardment.

Violence in Iraq has surged to its highest level since 2008.

The authorities blame external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria, and insist wide-ranging operations against militants are having an impact.

But near-daily attacks have continued and diplomats say the Shiite-led government must do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab minority to curb support for militancy.

The unrest comes as incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pursues re-election following April 30 polls that put him in the driver's seat with by far the highest number of seats.

But the premier's bloc fell short of an absolute majority on its own, and he will have to court the support of rivals, many of whom have refused to countenance a third term for Maliki.

His opponents blame him for the marked deterioration in security in the past year, as well as rampant corruption and what critics say is insufficient improvement in basic services.

Maliki, however, contends he has been hamstrung by a national unity government that snipes at him in public and has blocked his legislative efforts in parliament.

Iraq violence leaves more than 100 dead

Series of attacks targeting security forces and Shia neighbourhoods raises fears of al-Qaida offensive

By Martin Chulov
Monday 23 July 2012

The most lethal series of attacks to hit Iraq in more than two years has killed at least 106 people and left the country in fear of a major offensive by a resurgent al-Qaida.

The co-ordinated bombings and assassinations involved around 30 different attacks in 18 towns and cities, many in areas that the Islamic State of Iraq recently said it was trying to reclaim, more than five years after being vanquished at the height of Iraq's civil war.

State security forces, government buildings and Shia Muslim neighbourhoods were the main targets of the attack, repeating a pattern that partly characterised the rampant violence that ravaged Iraq along sectarian lines from 2006 to 2007.

While no longer commonplace, such spectacular attacks have been launched with relative frequency since the height of the civil war. Residents of Baghdad angrily condemned the government, claiming that the ease with which bombers had penetrated rings of security in so many cities showed that terror groups had their measure.

"We got blown up in 2008, 2009 and 2010, said Ahmed Haidari, a resident of the impoverished Shia district of Sadr City, contacted by telephone. "God blessed us last year for once, but now it is back to the way it was before. Maybe worse.

"This sort of evil during Ramadan is evil."

Forty-year-old Abu Mohammed, from Taji, north of Baghdad, told Agence France Press: "I heard explosions in the distance, so I left my house and I saw a car outside. We asked the neighbours to leave their houses, but when they were leaving, the bomb went off."

The bombings started at about 5am, around the time that observant Muslims were taking a pre-dawn meal to mark the Muslim holy month, Ramadan, which started at the weekend. Attacks continued until around 10am, a schedule tailored to capitalise on the fact that the victims had returned to sleep ahead of a long, hot day of fasting.

The Baghdad neighbourhoods of Husseiniyah and Yarmuk, frequent targets of past attacks, were hit again, as were numerous areas in Diyyala province, which had been the scene of some of the worst attacks of the civil war. A military base in Salahedin province, not far from Saddam Hussein's ancestral home in Tikrit, was targeted around dawn by gunmen who shot dead around 15 soldiers.

Elsewhere, checkpoints were attacked by gunmen and roadside bombs were planted to hit passing security forces. Several judges were also targeted.

The Islamic State of Iraq – a direct al-Qaida affiliate, had warned that it would soon launch attacks. Last week it had claimed it was trying to re-group in areas to the north of Baghdad on which it had tried and failed to re-establish a regional caliphate in 2006.

An audio recording posted on the internet and thought to have been made by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said: "We are starting a new stage. The first priority in this is releasing Muslim prisoners everywhere, and chasing and eliminating judges and investigators and their guards."

"On the occasion of the beginning of the return of the state to the areas that we left, I urge you to carry out more efforts, and send your sons with the mujahideen to defend your religion and obey God."

Iraq's political leaders are acutely sensitive to the perception that they can't control the streets of their towns and cities and no mention of the latest events was made on state-controlled television.

Iraq has tried to link attempts by al-Qaida to reorganise to the escalating crisis in Syria. Al-Qaida's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged those who follow the group's global jihad ideology to travel to Syria.

On Monday Iraq became the only Arab state to oppose an Arab League call for Syria's besieged president, Bashar al-Assad, to stand down. The stance was in part based on Iraq's fear that its delicate sectarian fabric would unravel if the violence in Syria spills over.

However, it was also rooted in the unwavering support of Iran for Syria.

In what is being perceived as a concession to Iraqis who say their government has been too uncritical of the Assad regime, the prime minister, Nour al-Maliki, on Monday overturned a decision that had banned Syrian refugees from fleeing to Iraq.

After a series of battles in 2007, US forces in Iraq at the time concluded that al-Qaida had been "strategically defeated". While the group has not at any point since been able to wreak the same carnage as it had in the previous three years, there have been constant reminders of the group's resilience.

Islamic State of Iraq members are known to have allied with members of Saddam Hussein's ousted Ba'ath party, which lost all power and patronage when Baghdad fell and has remained sidelined and resentful ever since.

Baghdad blasts kill 63 as Iraq tensions rise


Most attacks in mainly Shi'ite Muslim neighborhoods; suicide bomber in ambulance kills 18 in one attack; fragile power-sharing government grapples with crisis.
BAGHDAD - A rash of bombings hit Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 63 people in the first big attack on Iraq's capital since a crisis between its Shi'ite Muslim-led government and Sunni rivals erupted days after the US troop withdrawal.

The apparently coordinated bombings were the first sign of rising violence after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki moved to sideline two Sunni Muslim leaders, just a few years after sectarian bloodletting drove Iraq to the edge of civil war.

At least 18 people were killed when a suicide bomber driving an ambulance detonated the vehicle near a government office in the Karrada district, sending up a dust cloud and scattering car parts into a kindergarten, police and health officials said.

"We heard the sound of a car driving, then car brakes, then a huge explosion, all our windows and doors are blown out, black smoke filled our apartment," said Maysoun Kamal, who lives in a Karrada compound.

In total at least 57 people were killed and 179 were wounded in more than ten explosions in Baghdad, an Iraqi health ministry spokesman said.

Two roadside bombs struck the southwestern Amil district, killing at least seven people and wounding 21 others, while a car bomb blew up in a Shi'ite neighborhood in Doura in the south, killing three people and wounding six, police said.

More bombs ripped into the central Alawi area, Shaab and Shula in the north, all mainly Shi'ite areas, and a roadside bomb killed one and wounded five near the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya, police said.

Violence in Iraq has ebbed since the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007, when suicide bombers and hit squads targeted Sunni and Shi'ite communities in attacks that killed thousands of people.

Iraq is still fighting a stubborn, lower-grade insurgency with Sunni Islamists tied to al Qaida and Shi'ite militias, who US officials say are backed by Iran, still staging daily attacks.

US troops only just left

The last few thousand American troops pulled out of Iraq over the weekend, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein. Many Iraqis had said they feared a return to sectarian violence without a US military buffer.

Just days after the withdrawal, Iraq's fragile power-sharing government is grappling with its worst turmoil since its formation a year ago. Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs share out government posts in a unwieldy system that has been impaired by political infighting since it began.

Maliki this week sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges he organised assassinations and bombings, and he asked parliament to fire his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq after he likened Maliki to Saddam.

The moves against the senior Sunni leaders are stirring sectarian tensions because Sunnis fear the prime minister wants to consolidate Shi'ite control.

Iraq's Sunni minority have felt marginalized since the rise of the Shi'ite majority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Many Sunnis feel they have been shunted aside in the power-sharing agreement that Washington touts as a young democracy.

Thursday's attacks represented the first major assault in Baghdad since November when three bombs exploded in a commercial district and another blast hit the city's western outskirts on Saturday, killing at least 13 people.

In October, bomb attacks on a busy commercial street in northeastern Baghdad killed at least 30, with scores wounded.

Disgusting silence on church bloodbath


Last Updated: November 6, 2010

Toronto Sun

The non-Muslim world is increasingly not surprised and unmoved by the depravity of Muslim jihadis committing outrage, one after another without end in sight, and what can only be explained, unsatisfactorily, as a pathological wish to cause pain to the living by random acts of terrorist violence.

The murderous attack on the church in central Baghdad last Sunday by Muslim terrorists, if we go with the news reports, was merely another not unusual blood-soaked event in the daily cycle of news from Muslim countries.

But if such an atrocity was not just another criminal event in a "normal" day across the Arab-Muslim world, then we should have heard of a special meeting being called at the UN, or in one of the capitals of member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to express outrage against those who killed innocent worshippers inside Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad.

We then should have heard of Muslim political and religious leaders expressing their grief over the dead and wounded — there were some 120 Iraqi Christians in attendance at the Sunday evening mass when Muslim terrorists attacked the church and left 58 dead with only a dozen escaping unhurt.

Instead, we have deathly silence of the Muslim leadership as non-Muslim minorities inside the Arab-Muslim world are routinely abused, their homes and places of worship under daily duress, and their hearts filled with fear of violent death in the hands of Muslim jihadis.

The silence signifies the abdication of any responsibility by governments of the Arab-Muslim world to protect non-Muslims in their countries, and severely punish those who target them.

Then there is the ignoble silence of Muslims here in Canada, and across the West, over the repeated atrocities committed against non-Muslim minorities in places like Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, or Sudan.

This silence of Muslim minorities in the West is even more despicable than that of Arab-Muslim governments. It reveals how little they understand, or respect, the political culture of societies where they have made their homes.

On the contrary, there is shrill denunciation by Muslim governments, and organizations representing Muslim minorities in the West, of the manufactured problem of "Islamophobia."

Earlier this year the UN human rights council passed a resolution on "combating defamation of religions" with particular reference to Islam.

The resolution, pushed by the OIC members, denounced anti-Muslim discrimination in the West following 9/11. It also expressed deep concerns in respect to Islam "frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violation and terrorism."

The gap between the resolution lobbied for by the OIC and the silence of its members over atrocities committed against non-Muslim minorities inside the House of Islam (dar al-Islam) illustrate the perversity of Muslim political-religious leaders.

Similar is the perversity of Muslim organizations in Canada and the West remaining silent in the face of outrageous crimes and defamation of religions by jihadis, while condemning Islamophobia where it is more or less non-existent.

The simple truth is Muslims are among the worst perpetrators of crimes against non-Muslims, and penalties based on obsolete jurisprudence of Shariah implemented in Muslim states violate the UN Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights, to which they are signatories.


Iraq archbishop warns Christians face 'liquidation'

October 10, 2008

KIRKUK, Iraq (AFP) — Iraq's Christians face "liquidation," the Chaldean archbishop of the northern city of Kirkuk told AFP in an interview, urging Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to guarantee the minority's safety.

Archbishop Louis Sako also called on the US military to do more to protect Christians and other minorities in the face of a rash of deadly attacks that has prompted growing numbers to flee the country.

"We are the target of a campaign of liquidation, a campaign of violence. The objective is political," Sako said.

He said that since the US-led invasion of 2003, more than 200 Christians had been killed and a string of churches attacked, and added that the violence had intensified in recent weeks, particularly in the north.

He said it was now time for Maliki's Shiite Muslim-led government to deliver on repeated promises to do more to protect Iraq's minorities.

"We have heard many words from Prime Minister Maliki, but unfortunately this has not translated into reality," he said. "We continue to be targeted. We want solutions, not promises."

There were around 800,000 Christians in Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, a number that has now shrunk by a third as the faithful have fled the country, the archbishop said.

He said that Christians are entirely dependent on the government and its US backers for protection as, unlike the Shiite majority, the Sunni Arab former elite or the Kurds, they have no powerful tribes or militias to defend them.

"The Christians of Iraq are not militias or tribes to defend themselves, we have a bitter feeling of injustice, because innocent people are killed and we do not know why," he said.

Sako stressed that forming Christian militias would not resolve the community's plight but merely complicate an already complex security situation.

"We believe it is the responsibility of Americans who occupy our country to protect Iraqis."

The archbishop said that in the main northern city of Mosul six Christians had been killed in less than a week.

"These attacks are not the first. Unfortunately, they will not be the last," he said.

In March, the body of the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Paul Faraj Rahho, was found in a shallow grave in the city two weeks after he was kidnapped.

Rahho, 65, was abducted during a shootout in which three of his companions were killed as he returned home from celebrating mass on February 29.

In Baghdad, gunmen shot dead a Syrian Orthodox priest, Youssef Adel, near his home in the city centre in April in an attack condemned by Pope Benedict XVI.

Lord George Carey, who stepped down as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, had warned that the ethnic cleansing of Christians from mainly Muslim Iraq had intensified since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq's Christian community includes various denominations.

The Assyrian church has maintained its independence since the 5th century when it broke away from the rest of the Christian communion. Some of its followers still speak a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Christ.

The Chaldean Church broke away from the Assyrian Church when it recognised the authority of the Pope but it retains its own rite.

Iraq also has Syrian Orthodox and Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox and Catholic congregations.

"Those who carry out the attacks want to either push Christians out of the country or force them to ally with some political projects." Sako said.

He called on Christians not to lose faith with Iraq.

"The government does not belong to one religion... we are not religious extremists," he said. "Christians are true sons of Iraq."



Shiite Muslim Iraqis cut themselves to show obedience to their religion


The Perilous Ins and Outs of Travel in Iraq

From arrival to takeoff, a trip to Baghdad is an eye-opener to insecurity, struggles of a nation.

By Marjorie Miller
Times Staff Writer
May 28, 2005

BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — The flight out of Iraq has been grounded by a sandstorm. The sky is opaque, amber-yellow, and travelers pass the time talking guns.

A well-known Sunni political leader on his way to Lebanon likes the lightweight German Glock. He can tuck it into the waistband of his pants. His friend, an American contractor, prefers the Italian Beretta, a more reliable weapon. He points out the window to the blinding sand dust.

"Can you imagine what that does to a gun?" the American says.

As the hours tick by and the weather refuses to clear, the Iraqi fingers his prayer beads. The American rocks back and forth on his heels. The airplane is still stuck in Jordan, two hours away.

"Did I tell you they tried to kill me with a suicide bomber?" the Iraqi asks his American friend.

"No, you didn't mention it."

"Two of my bodyguards died," he says.

The Iraqi, who asks not to be identified, is a player. He talks to Shiite religious and political leaders. He talks to the Americans and to Ahmad Chalabi, a former U.S. ally. He talks to Sunni sheiks, and who knows who else.

"Yeah, well, they want to kill you. A lot of people probably want to kill you," the American responds.

It is early May and I have only been in Baghdad for a few days and a couple of suicide bombs, but already I understand the numbing effect of the pervasive violence. My Royal Jordanian flight to Baghdad had made the requisite corkscrew landing to evade any insurgent missile fire. A flight attendant announced afterward that passengers should remain seated until the plane came to a full stop and refrain from opening overhead bins "for your own safety."

I chuckled. A whack on the head from carry-on luggage seemed the least of my worries with the deadly airport road and bomb-racked city looming ahead. But no one else seemed to see the irony. The other passengers stared straight ahead, seat belts dutifully fastened.

I moved around Baghdad in the back of an armored car whose thick windows separated me from kebab shops, cafes and fruit stands with bright red apples that I could see but could not touch, as if in a dream. For the return trip to the airport, I donned a black abaya and head scarf so that anyone looking in the car window would not immediately see a Western woman.

By then, my thinking tilted toward the paranoid. I wondered if the man lighting a cigarette by the side of the airport road simply wanted a smoke or meant to signal insurgents, whether a young boy herding sheep was a shepherd or a scout.

At the first airport checkpoint, I got out of the car for a suitcase and body search. Secular Iraqi women headed for work at the airport stared at my Muslim dress. They do not like the Islamization of Iraq, and danger or no danger, they did not like my abaya. I took it off inside the airport, and when one of the women working the ticket counter spotted me in my Eileen Fisher travel wear, she shouted, "Now you look beautiful!"

The airport is open to Iraqis with a passport and a ticket, but on this day most of the passengers waiting in the hall lighted by gray-green fluorescent light are U.S. contractors wearing dusty boots and pouches around their necks with badges from the Department of Defense. They line up for flights chartered by Halliburton's KBR subsidiary to places such as Tikrit and Irbil.

Some of them are veterans of past wars, former soldiers and fellow travelers from Panama, Somalia, Kosovo. They eat sandwiches of flat Iraqi bread and drink cups of strong, sweet coffee that could almost send them flying without a plane.

The talk turns to politics. The American contractor and his Iraqi friend are frustrated. Things went wrong in Iraq from the very beginning, they say, when the U.S. failed to prevent looting after the fall of Saddam Hussein, decided to disband the Iraqi army, and refused to hand power over to Iraqis immediately.

The U.S. government allowed the liberation to become an occupation, they say, and is still paying the price of that mistake. In their view, the violence is not diminishing. The transitional Iraqi government will not succeed. The ongoing violence will end in civil war.

A day before, I had visited the so-called Green Zone, encompassing U.S. installations and the seat of the government, where I was told things were improving in Iraq.

The walled Green Zone conjures images of Oz, but it's desert camouflage rather than emerald. To enter is to go through layer after layer of security barricades, past watchtowers and armored tanks with turrets, through car and body searches, beeping scanners and scrutinizing eyes. The guards are Gurkhas and Georgians, many of whom speak neither Arabic nor English.

Lt. Col. Fred Wellman had offered a cold drink and a slide show of the Jan. 30 election day. It was a moving presentation set to music, of men and women in separate, snaking lines waiting to vote in the first free elections of their lifetime. It had the rousing feel of a campaign ad. Voter after voter held up a purple, ink-dipped finger in an inspiring demonstration of popular will.

"Not a single polling station was compromised," Wellman said with pride.

U.S. officials in the Green Zone were in a particularly good mood that day because finally, more than three months after the election, the Iraqis had completed the formation of the new government with the selection of a Sunni defense minister. Things were moving forward, they said.

"If we're willing to stay the course here, we can do it here," enthused a senior U.S. official who, like most Americans in the Green Zone, spoke on the condition that he would not be identified. "I certainly can see the way forward. I think the Iraqi forces are going to be ever more on the job, and I think the insurgency is going to split."

Wellman said that about 162,000 Iraqi troops had been trained and equipped by the U.S. and allied forces. This is the "Iraqi-ization" of the war, the gradual turning over of combat and security to what will eventually be an estimated 300,000 Iraqi soldiers and police.

Meanwhile, a senior military officer explained with unblinking earnestness his belief that Iraqis were different from us. They tell him so. Iraqis have more children than Americans do, he said. If one child dies, of course they are sad, but they have others. They can even take a second wife to have more children.

A look of horror washed briefly across my face. Bombs explode nearly every day, sometimes several times a day in Baghdad and around the country. From what I have seen, when an Iraqi dies, mothers, fathers and children cry in grief. More than 450 Iraqi civilians have died in May alone.

The officer said that this was an unusually bad period. It had been quiet in previous weeks while the insurgents stockpiled their car bombs and gathered their foreign suicide bombers, many of whom they drugged before sending them like sheep to slaughter, he said. But they will run out of bombs soon. In a couple of weeks it will be quiet again, he said.

At the airport, I tell them about the optimism I encountered in the Green Zone over the formation of a new government, and the new Sunni defense minister, Saadoun Dulaimi. The Sunni coughs out a laugh. The interior minister is a Shiite, he says. That's where the power lies.

"The interior minister is an Iranian agent," he says. The Americans just don't get it.

The sky begins to clear a bit. We hear that the plane has taken off from Jordan and will be arriving at 4 p.m. The airport closes at 5 p.m., so we'll have just an hour to take off. Otherwise, we'll all have to head back down the airport road, back into the bombed-out wreck of Baghdad.

Finally, the flight to Jordan is announced. It takes off at 4:40 p.m. — 20 minutes before it is considered too dangerous to fly.


Islam to be main source of Iraqi law  

Constitutional panel members' language suggests end to secular Iraq.


Thursday, July 28, 2005
Chicago Tribune

BAGHDAD, IRAQ – Religion will play a dominant role in Iraq's new constitution, which will identify Islam as the main source of laws, members of the committee drafting the document said Wednesday.

Also, no law will be permitted to contradict Islam, language that could see Iraq change into an Islamic state.

The wording, announced by leaders of the main factions in Baghdad, appears to mark a breakthrough on one of the issues to be resolved if Iraq's legislature is to draft a new constitution by Aug. 15, but it goes further than U.S. officials had wanted in defining the role of religion.

In Washington, a spokesman for the State Department said late Wednesday that the department has not yet seen a full draft and there would be no immediate comment.

Humam Hamoodi, a Shiite clergyman who is chairman of the constitutional committee, said any constitution that did not embrace Islam would be rejected in any referendum.

"The average Iraqi now supports a significant role for religion in the state," he said.

Adnan Janabi, one of the committee's deputy chairmen, said he would have preferred a separation of religion and state "but we have to accept the reality of the moment."

Members of Iraq's small Christian community as well as other religious minorities will be free to practice their religion, he said.

Secularists are now trying to push for language allowing civil law alongside religious laws in family issues such as marriage and divorce.

Women's groups have expressed alarm at plans to remove family law from the jurisdiction of civil courts and place it under the authority of religious courts that typically accord women fewer rights than men in matters such as marriage, inheritance and divorce.

Kurdish leaders have frequently said they will not allow Iraq to be transformed into an Islamic state but they are also pushing for a high degree of autonomy that will make it difficult to apply Iraqi laws in the Kurdish region. The issue of federalism and the degree of autonomy to be accorded to the Kurdish region are among the most contentious of the many issues still to be resolved.


Assyrian Author Testifies Before House Committee on Condition of Assyrians in Iraq


Assyrian International News Agency

Rosie Malek-Yonan, an Assyrian and author of The Crimson Field, testified before the House Committee on International Relations today on the condition of Assyrians in Iraq.

My name is Rosie Malek-Yonan. I am not a politician. I am not a member of any political group or organization. I am an author. I am a Christian. I am an Assyrian. I am an American citizen. I am here to tell you about a 15 year old boy named Fadi Shamoon.

Fadi was happily riding the new bike his father had given him, when suddenly on that 5th day of October, 2004, he was yanked off his new bike and kidnapped by terrorist Islamist Kurds. His family went crazy wondering what had happened to little Fadi, until a neighbor found Fadi's body thrown out on the roadside like garbage. He was in pieces. His body was barbarically mutilated and burned, and he was beheaded in a most horrific manner.

As unthinkable and unimaginable as this crime was, it wasn't the first that the residents of the Assyrian district of Ba'asheeqa had seen. Just prior to this, the Assyrians had mourned another son, 14 year old Julian Afram Yacoub when he was hit in the head with a concrete block and then burned. Killing innocent Christian children has become fashionable in Iraq, forcing many Christians to flee their homes and villages, money-less and helpless.

In my recently published historical epic novel, The Crimson Field, I have relayed the factual atrocities that were unleashed on my people in the span of four years from 1914 to 1918, which wiped out two-thirds of my Assyrian population totaling some 750,000.

I have lost great grand parents, great uncles, great aunts, and many others. My people were victimized at the hands of the Islamist Kurds and Turks 91 years ago for being Christian. My people are still being victimized at the hands of the Islamist Kurds today for being Christian.

My churches are being bombed. My elders are being killed. My young brothers are being assaulted and kidnapped. My fellow students are being harassed and beaten. My children and neighbors are being beheaded. If my sister refuses to wear a Muslim hijab, she is raped or tortured by having acid thrown in her face. And yes, the majority of these incidents have gone unreported in the western media. These atrocities are occurring right under the watchful eyes of my American government since the "liberation" of Iraq.

March 16, 1918: "One hundred fifty souls perished that black day [at the hands of the Kurds]. One hundred fifty souls that were accounted for. One hundred fifty souls that were loved by fathers and mothers. By sons and daughters. By sisters and brothers. By wives and lovers. One hundred fifty souls, each one of them with individual names, who were expected at dinner tables that evening. That night and every night, one hundred fifty chairs would remain unoccupied, each leaving an empty space in the hearts of a nation on the brink of total extinction. One hundred fifty candles flickered in the distance when angels swept the earth for their souls."

That was an excerpt from my book, The Crimson Field. I could have very well been writing about the plight of today's Assyrians in Iraq. History is repeating itself and no one is taking notice; No one except my people.

We Assyrians are a nation without boundaries. For thousands of years we have survived by sheer will power. Nearly a century ago, in the shadows of WWI, my grandparents struggled to survive to save future generations of Assyrians from extinction. Now that burden is mine to carry. Now my generation faces that same struggle to save my nation from total extinction in Iraq. We care about the preservation of the bald Eagle and strive to save it from extinction. We pass laws forbidding the hunting of a bald Eagle. Yet we allow the oldest nation in the world to become extinct. This is unforgivable.

Assyrians, like myself, living in diaspora in our adopted countries, are doing what we can to bring awareness to the plight of our people. We're not soldiers. We can't take up arms and fight in the streets of Baghdad. But we write books and articles, hold lectures, and make documentary films. We hold vigils and debates. We march. We go on hunger strikes and peaceful demonstrations. We hold rallies. We speak.

When you gain knowledge of atrocities occurring, you are in essence baring witness to those facts and as such, you inherit the absolute responsibility to testify to and alleviate those human miseries.

We Assyrians are not extraordinary people. But we are caught up in the cross fires of extraordinary events. And yet we don't fight violence with violence. We don't retaliate. Because we just want to live. When our churches are bombed, we don't think of retribution. We walk away as Christians should.

Just this week, 7,000 Assyrians left Baghdad for Northern Iraq. The women and children have taken refuge in other Assyrian homes, while the men sleep in the cemeteries at night. I don't mean figuratively. I mean literally. They sleep in the cemeteries because they have no other shelter. These suffering Assyrians in Iraq depend on our courage in the western world to help them.

A few months ago, I met with Mar Gewargis Sliwa, the Assyrian Archbishop of Iraq from the Assyrian Catholic Church of the East. His account of the lives of Assyrian children in Iraq was appalling and heartbreaking. He said to me, "We can't help our children anymore. They play in fields of blood. We are a poor nation. We need help. Help us."

Just days ago I spoke with His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, the Patriarch of the Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, who told me that the priests in Iraq can no longer wear their clerical robes in public. They have to dress as civilians otherwise they are targeted and attacked by Islamists.

Today's Iraq was once part of Assyria. Assyria was the first nation to accept Christianity. The Assyrian Church was founded in 33 A.D. Today, my Assyrian nation's future is in serious trouble. Iraq's Assyrian population of 1.4 million before the Iraq war has now dwindled down to nearly 800,000 with no one protecting their interests.

Though Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq, they are now either being victimized and killed, or being driven out of their homeland. Their practice of the Christian religion is not being tolerated or allowed by the terrorists and Islamist Kurds. Acts of violence and aggression towards the Assyrian Christians of Iraq are frequent occurrences. For example, Assyrian churches are prime targets of anti-Assyrian/anti-Christian campaigns, killing and injuring many Assyrians. From 2004 to June 2006, 27 churches were attacked or bombed for the sole reason that they were houses of worship of Assyrian Christians. On one occasion, 6 churches were simultaneously bombed in Baghdad and Kirkuk, and on another occasion an additional 6 churches were simultaneously bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. Simultaneous church bombings is a recurring pattern.

Despite the push for Iraq to become a democratic country, the unthinkable brutality of Saddam Hussein has now shifted and is being unleashed onto the Assyrians by Islamic fundamentalists and the Kurdish power that is rapidly rising in Iraq since the new so-called "democratic" Iraq emerged. I say "so-called" because it is not democracy when election fraud and intimidation runs rampant.

For the first time in Iraq's history, Assyrians were able to take part in the January 2005 elections. But thousands of Assyrians of the Nineveh Plain did not get a chance to vote. In the Assyrian towns and villages, ballot boxes did not arrive and Kurdish officials in charge of the voting process never showed up. There are numerous accounts of ballot box thefts. Where Assyrians could vote, the armed Kurdish militia and secret police made their presence known near the polling stations, intimidating the already frightened women and elderly Assyrians. And in Assyrian provinces, Kurdish votes were generated in abundance in place of Assyrian votes. Today in war-torn Iraq, being denied their most basic human rights, these ancient and indigenous people continue to be the target of systematic oppression, murder, intimidation, kidnapping, and violence. Assyrians in Northern Iraq are marginalized by Kurds who have gained momentum and are exercising the same brand of violence they once complained of during Saddam's dictatorship.

Since the start of the Iraq war, various Eastern media outlets have steadily reported some, but not all of the violent crimes perpetrated against Assyrians. I have a mere sampling of these crimes attached to my Statement, which you have before you. However, most of these crimes go undocumented and unreported in the Western media. The fact that such cases are falling through the cracks does not in any way diminish their validity and legitimacy. Reported or not, when basic human rights are violated, crimes against humanity have been committed. Other examples of Assyrians being marginalized can be found in the newly drafted Iraqi Constitution's Preamble. The Arabs, Kurds, and Turkomans are specifically mentioned, whereas Assyrians are omitted. Additionally, the Preamble cites atrocities against the Kurds but completely ignores those against the Assyrians during Saddam's regime as well as the 1933 Assyrian Massacre in Semele, Iraq.

Iraq's "liberation" has become the "oppression" of Assyrians. The war in Iraq is silently taking its toll on the Assyrians particularly in the Northern regions of Kirkuk, Mosul and Baghdad where the Assyrian population is concentrated. In the Nineveh Plains and its surrounding regions, under the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and through a dictatorship, Assyrian lands are being illegally confiscated.

And yet the Assyrians don't strike back. We remain peaceful and tolerant under intolerable conditions.

There is no aid or funding going to the Assyrian regions under our American watch. Basic medical need is non-existent for these Christians. A woman cannot have a c-section in her neighborhood. She has to drive miles away and risk her life and the life of her unborn child to receive medical care.

We, Assyrians, are not asking for anything beyond the aid that is already going to Iraq for redevelopment. But we are asking that Assyrians proportionally receive aid sent to the Assyrian regions.

In Northern Iraq, millions of dollars in funding by the United States are assigned to be over looked by Kurdish political parties who are primarily using these monies for their own advantage instead of a fair and equitable distribution of much needed funds to the Assyrian leadership to be used to aid Assyrian communities that are in dire need.

Today Assyrians are one of the most vulnerable minorities in the world. Under our watch, the largest Assyrian exodus is underway. It is estimated that if things continue to proceed as they now are, within 10 years, the Assyrian population of Iraq will be eradicated because of the ethnic cleansing, the forced exodus, and migration.

The indigenous people of the United States, the American Indians, have their human rights secured in their homeland in America. The indigenous people of Iraq, the Assyrian Christians, are being driven out of their homeland.

The displacement of Assyrians has become a seriously overlooked issue. During the Gulf War thousands fled to Jordan. In 2003, during the early stages of the Iraq War, gripped by fear, 40,000 to 50,000 Assyrians fled to Syria. Since then, thousands have been leaving Iraq because of the threats they have received. Homeless and living on the streets of Syria and Jordan, Assyrians helplessly await assistance.

According to Statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in October 2005 about 700,000 Iraqis fled to Syria. Between October 2003 and March 2005, 36% of these refugees were Christian Iraqi. That's 252,000 Assyrian Christian refugees. When the Iraq war started, Assyrians did not have a "safe region" to go to within Iraq so naturally they ran to neighboring countries like Syria and Jordan. But since Assyrians are not displaced internally in Iraq, they no longer qualify for the current "displacement" assistance program. These Assyrian refugees who once led productive lives in Iraq, have resorted to begging, slavery, prostitution, and selling organs just to survive and feed their families. This is happening under our watch in America. The flip side of this is that millions of displaced Kurds are returning with assistance to settle back into their own regions because they, unlike the Assyrians, had a "safe region" to run to within Iraq. We must balance this.

It is an undisputable fact that Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization and that the Assyrian Christians are the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, present day Iraq. It is also undisputable that Assyrians are a part of the fabric of today's Iraq, enduring under the constraint of Shariia or Islamic law though an in-name-only democratic Iraq.

Article (2)b of the Iraqi Constitution states: "No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy." Article (2)a of the Iraqi Constitution states: "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." These two articles are in contradiction with each other.

One of the rules of Islam, which can be found in the Koran at Chapter 3, line 19, states: "The only true faith in God's sight is Islam." In Chapter 3, line 86, the Koran states: "He that chooses a religion over Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost." Christians having chosen a religion over Islam are considered infidels and idolaters. In Chapter 2, lines 190 to 193, the Koran dictates to all Muslims to "Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage." And so, Christian Churches are bombed and Christians are slain; Assyrian Christians.

Despite being the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, Assyrians are discriminated against and treated as unwanted guests in their own homeland as they face the threat of yet another modernday ethnic cleansing by the Islamist Kurds that is reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing of nearly a century ago exercised by the then Ottoman Turks and Kurds.

Today's Middle-East must become ethnically balanced. Just like there is a Jewish state, and an Arab state, there is a need for a Christian state.

Although Chapter 4, Article 121 of the Iraqi Constitution entitled "Local Administrations" guarantees the administrative, political, cultural, educational rights for the various ethnicities such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and the other components, this law exists in theory only, and not in practice.

With the Iraqi government's suppression of the rights of Christians, Assyrians are looking to international communities and the western world in particular to the U.S. and U.N. to intervene on their behalf, enabling them to establish their own Assyrian Administrative Region in the Nineveh Plain in order to become, once again, a thriving and healthy community in Iraq. This Assyrian Administrative Region will witness the return of the Assyrian refugees to their ancestral homeland. However, this measure must be taken now. This is not an issue that can be placed on the back burner.

The endangered Assyrian civilization that managed to survive under Genghis Khan, WWI and WWII, is now spiraling out of control towards complete obliteration due to the present ethnic

cleansing, assimilation and forced migration and refugee exodus. On 9/11 America experienced a reasonably small example of Islamic terrorism as compare to that with which Christians of the Middle--East are familiar. The world watched in horror as we, the citizens of this great nation, mourned our loss. And the world mourned with us. How shameful it would have been if the tragedy of 9/11 had gone unnoticed. How shameful it is that the tragedy of the Assyrian genocide of last century went unnoticed. How shameful it is that the current Assyrian massacres are going unnoticed.

Assyrian Christians Victimized in Iraq (list compiled by historian and author Fred Aprim)


June 22, 2006

New statistics by the Assyrian Aid Society estimated that 1331 Assyrian Christian families (accounting for about 5561 persons) have fled Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Ramadi, and Kirkuk and relocated in towns and villages in northern Iraq. The Christians are fleeing because of the lack of security or forced migration. 449 families relocated to Dohuk, 119 families to Barwari Bala, 19 families to Mulla Barwan, 52 families to Aqra, 429 families to Zakho, and 263 families to Sapna.

Source: www.nirgalgate.com/asp/v_news.asp?id=2032


June 14, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Iraqi Police harassed and severely beat Assyrian students from Mosul University after final exams, and then held the students down, shaving their heads as a form of public embarrassment, and forced them to walk down the street to further display their "shame" in public. During the previous year the Assyrian students had also been harassed and threatened for being Christians. Sources: www.khoyada.com/news/news16062006-1.htm;

ChaldoAssyrian Student Union, Nineveh Branch;



June 11, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

A bomb explosion in the al-Karrada district in central Baghdad killed 21 year old Assyrian computer engineering student, Ninos Shamuel Adam, four days before receiving his degree from Bet-Nahrain University of Baghdad. He was a straight A student (98 points) and was to study abroad having received a full scholarship for the next academic year. Family members believe that Ninos was the target of anti-Christian and anti-academia hatred that runs rampant in major universities of Iraq. Hundreds of professors and top students in Iraq have already been murdered in the last three years and many Christian students continue to sustain injuries and maltreatment from fellow students and Islamist groups.

Sources: www.zindamagazine.com/ThisWeek/06.18.06/index_sun.php;



June 7, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

Rushd Noel Essa, 26, from the Assyrian quarter of Dora, was killed by a cab bomb in al-Sina'aa quarter in Baghdad. He was a member of the Chaldo-Assyrian Student and Youth Union.

Sources: www.khoyada.com; www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,42944.0.html


June 3, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

33 year old Assyrian woman, Rahima Elias Isha'ya, from the Assyrian town of Karamles was murdered by a group of armed men in the crowded commercial neighborhood of Dargazliyya in Mosul, gunned down in her own perfume and make-up shop.

Sources: www.zindamagazine.com/ThisWeek/06.18.06/index_sun.php;




June 2, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

Kaneesat al-Si'aood (The Church of Ascension) was attacked by a rocket bomb, causing damage to the church building and a hole in the church dome.

Sources: www.nirgalgate.com/asp/v_news.asp?id=1878;




June 2, 2006 - Basra, Iraq

Armed men murdered a Christian Assyrian engineer in front of his home in Basra. The victim worked at the al-Najeebiyya Electrical Circuit in al-Ma'aqal. Based on numerous past Christian killings in Basra to force them to leave the city, this murder, too, seems to have religious bases.

Sources: www.iraq4allnews.dk/viewnews.php?id=117594;




May 30, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

30 year old Raad Joseph, an Assyrian businessman from the Assyrian town of Bar-Tilla, where he ran a weight-training club, was murdered in Mosul. His body was found in the Aysar coast of the industrial district of Mosul. He left behind a wife and child. The killing is believed to be an act of revenge caused by the victim's refusal to give up his business after a bid made by Kurds was rejected in court. An offer of 4 million Iraqi Dinars was made by the competing Kurds a few days prior to the murder.

Sources Nergal Gate News Agency at www.nirgalgate.com/asp/v_news.asp?id=1879;





May 25, 2006 - Kirkuk, Iraq

50 year old Assyrian Police Captain Salam Mnati Yousif was shot to death by terrorists while shopping with his wife. He joined the Assyrian Democratic Movement after the liberation of Iraq and was an active member in the Assyrian Community in Kirkuk. He had 6 children.

Source: Assyrian Democratic Movement News


May 17, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Assyrian Abulkarim Hurmiz Bahoda was murdered in a hate crime incident.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,40576.0.html


April 26, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Yousif Odisho Giwargis al-Baylati, 41, was shot and killed in the Assyrian quarters of al- Dawwasa in Mosul, because of his ethnic background. A veteran of the Iraq-Iran war, he was injured in that war.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=687d5040ff54563b2926e66a8f89d476&topic=36820.0


April 12, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

James Benyamin, an Assyrian contractor and from the New Baghdad district of Baghdad, was shot and killed by insurgents while working in Balad, about 20 miles east of Baghdad.

Source: www.assyrianvoice.net/news/apr-12-06.htm


April 7, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

The Mujahadeen Council, a leading insurgency group linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq, announced the killing of a Christian Assyrian in Mosul. In a statement posted to the Internet, the group, whose military arm was recently headed by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said, "We eliminated him, because this impure crusader offended our noble prophet Mohammed. We killed him in the al-Tahir quarter of Mosul" it read.

Source: www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Terrorism&loid=8.0.285211908&par=0


April 7, 2006 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

Shimshon Awisha (Abu Robi), brother of David and Abbi Awisha, was murdered near the Assyrian Club in Dora district as he was heading home. The killer stepped out from a car, walked towards Mr. Awisha, and shot him dead.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,34731.0.html


April 6, 2006 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

Wasan Matti, sister of Fr. Wisam Matti of Mother of God Church, was killed by gunshots by an Islamic terrorist group. She was with her husband and 2 year old daughter in their car, returning home from a doctor's visit. Wasan was six months pregnant and would have celebrated her 30th birthday on April 18th. Source: Chaldean News Newspaper


April 5, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Assyrian Toma Hurmiz Toma al-Kanni was shot and killed by unidentified assailant(s) while he stood in the garden of his own front yard in the al-Mansour quarter of Mosul.


March 7, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Assyrian Kamil Sulaiman Hurmis, a factory owner in the Dawwasa Assyrian quarter of Mosul, was threatened that unless he paid huge amounts of money, he would be harmed. Rather than give in to the terror, Mr. Hurmis locked his business, left his home and the town for good.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,30362.0.html


March 7, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Assyrian Sinan Abd al-Jabbar, was kidnapped on March 4, 2006 and murdered 3 days later when his family was unable to pay the $50,000 ransom. His body was found thrown in hay al-Tahrir quarters in Mosul. Sinan was married and had a 5 month old baby.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,30362.0.html


March 6, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Fundamentalist Moslems have been sending threat letters to Assyrian Christians in Mosul in order to force them to leave town or face death. Source: Telephone call with Giwargis Samuel from Mosul


February 27, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

A car bomb exploded in the al-Ameen quarters of Baghdad at approximately 7 p.m., killing 38 year old Assyrian man, Mahir Toma Oshana. He left behind a wife and 3 young children.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,29435.0.html


February 24, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Assyrian man Ni'mat Mattai Jiddo was killed by fundamentalists in Mosul, leaving behind a wife and 2 children.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,29392.0.html


January 29, 2006 - Baghdad and Kirkuk, Iraq

Six Assyrian churches were bombed in unison. A car bomb detonated at 4:10 p.m. outside St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in the Eastern Baghdad suburb of Sina'a. Twenty minutes later, a car exploded outside the Anglican Church in Eastern Baghdad's Nidhal area. Mar Addai and Mar Mari Catholic Churche in al-Binook and St. Petros and Polous Orthodox Churches were bombed as well. The Church of the Virgin in Kirkuk was bombed at 4:30 p.m. That explosion came 15 minutes after another car bomb exploded outside of St. Ephrem Orthodox Church. Three were confirmed dead, including thirteen-year-old Fadi R. Elias, originally from Alqosh. Many Assyrians were wounded.

Source: www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7002155062


January 29, 2006 - Mosul, Iraq

Muslim students in Mosul University beat tens of Christian students days after a Danish newspaper published caricature drawing of Prophet Mohammad. Muslim clerics in Mosul, under pressure from Islamic militias, issued a fatwa (religious edict/jihad) calling their followers to "expel the Crusaders and infidels from the streets, schools, and institutions because they offended the person of the prophet in Denmark."

Source: www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2006/1/124132.htm


January 20, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

Yonis Sulaiman Yonan, from the Assyrian town of Karamles, had lived in Baghdad for decades, owning a service business specializing in repairing giant generators and medical equipments, when a stranger asked him to fix his generator. Yonan accompanied the man and never returned home. A message from his cell phone to his son's phone stated that he has been kidnapped. Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,25149.0.html


January 20, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

A group of armed men raided the home of the former Iraqi soccer player and coach Emmanuel David, better known as Ammo Baba, in Zayoona, in the center of Baghdad. The 74 year old former coach of the Iraqi National Soccer Team who led Iraq to three titles in the Arabian Gulf Soccer Tournaments and a gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games in India, was recently in ill health, suffering from diabetes, which had led to the amputation of his toes, and very poor vision. He told the police: "The armed men tied me up, blindfolded me, and began beating me." They stole Baba's money and belongings.

Sources: Kuwait News Agency (KUNA); www.kuna.net.kw/Story.asp?DSNO=806808


January 17, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq - Tahir Ablahad Qaryo, Iraq

A group disguised in Iraqi National Guard uniforms pushed themselves in the house of Deacon Sami Matti Sliwa (known also as Abu Addison), terrorizing the Assyrian family. After searching the house and finding nothing, they took Deacon Sliwa. Two hours later, they called the family, proclaiming this a hostage kidnapping, demanding ransom. Deacon Sliwa is not a member of any political group or organization and is the sole family provider.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,24448.0.html


January 7, 2006 - Baghdad, Iraq

The Christian Science Monitor named female US freelancer Jill Carroll as a kidnapped journalist in Baghdad, Iraq. The kidnapping occurred in the western Baghdad's Adil neighborhood. The body of her Assyrian interpreter, Allan Enwiya, 32, was later found in the same neighborhood. Enwiya was able to tell soldiers that Carroll had been kidnapped before he died from the two bullets in his head.

Sources: www.csmonitor.com/2006/0110/p01s04-woiq.html;riverbendblog.blogspot.com


January 1, 2006 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

43 year old Ayad Loqa Lazar of Kirkuk, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, was murdered by terrorists while on duty in Dora district. Ayad was married and had 2 children.

Source: www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/region.php?id=126622®ion=6


January 1, 2006 - Kirkuk, Iraq

During demonstrations in the Raheem Awa quarter in Kirkuk, where Assyrians and Kurds live, Youkhana Yaqo Youkhana, born 1936 in the Assyrian village of Deri, was accidentally killed by American troops shooting to clear up a demonstration protesting the high fuel prices. Youkhana was headed home from work when he was caught up in the demonstration. Youkhana's son, Emad Youkhana, is a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement.

Source: www.zowaa.org/ns/n1106.htm


December 12, 2005 - Mosul, Northern Iraq

Police Officer Ivan Giwargis Zaia, age 29, was assassinated in al-Sina'aa Quarter in Mosul. He was married with one child. He was an Assyrian.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,20701.0.html


December 2, 2005 - Kirkuk, Iraq

Sarmad Behnam Ibrahim, age 31, an Assyrian Officer with the Kirkuk Police Department and member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement was murdered while on duty.

Sources: www.ninanews.com/indexar.php?akcija=article&no=1638;



November 29, 2005 - Mosul, Iraq

Gunmen in two cars opened fire on 4 members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) as these party officials hung Iraqi election posters for the upcoming parliamentary elections in the al-Shuhadaa neighborhood in Northeast Mosul. Two of the Assyrian officials were killed: Yousif Nabil Ishmael from Baghdeda, born 1986, and Gewargis Brikha Youkhana from Nahla, born 1980; One was inured: Simon Edmon Youkhana, born 1983; And one is in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head: Milad Zakkar Mansour, born 1987.

Sources: breakingnews.iol.ie/news/story.asp?j=164175358&p=y64y76x64;



November 21, 2005 - al-Ghadeer quarter, Baghdad, Iraq

Baghdad police reported that 4 Assyrian Christian women were killed by a group of armed men storming a Christian home in East Baghdad's al-Ghadeer, a Christian majority quarter.

Source: www.tebayn.com/Tebayn%20Arabic/index.asp?pageID=1&SID=709&Ln=En


November 2, 2005 - Kirkuk, Northern Iraq

At approximately 5:00 p.m., a car bomb exploded near the Church of Mar Giwargis in the Assyrian quarter of Almas district in Kirkuk. One of the three civilian victims was an 18 year old Assyrian Sarmad Fadi Kamil. His father was injured in the explosion.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php?topic=16067.0


October 29, 2005 - Kirkuk, Northern Iraq

Kurds shot Oil Engineer, Michael Seeron Michael at his house with 4 bullets to his chest, killing him instantly. Michael, known to his close friends as Mikho, was the executive director for thenorthern branch of the Iraqi Oil Company. He had told his friends that members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) threatened him during a visit at his company, demanding that he quit his job and join the Kurdish party. Mikho is survived by 7 sisters scattered around the globe.

Sources: www.christianiraq.com/news/2006/01/11/list-of-reported-assyrians-murdered-in-iraq-in-2005;



October 17, 2005 - Tikrit, Northern Baghdad

A group of terrorists attacked an Assyrian family killing Younan Gharib and seriously injuring his wife and brother-in-law. Younan had been living in Syria because of the conditions in Iraq. Having recently returned to Baghdad, he moved to Northern Iraq to live with his extended family in a village near the Iraqi-Turkish border.

Source: www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php?topic=16141.0


October 17, 2005 - Baghdad, Iraq

A group of armed men entered the apartment of Nomat'eel Hasra, an Assyrian woman living in the New Baghdad district, in Eastern Baghdad, killing her. Source: www.elaph.com


September 22, 2005 - Baghdad, Iraq

In the capital's New Baghdad neighborhood, gunmen opened fire on a pickup truck carrying 6 Assyrian security guards assigned to protect Pascale Warda Esho, an Assyrian and former Iraqi Minister of Displacement and Migration. The murdered guards are: two brothers from Dehe, Daniel Nissan Philipos, age 27, and Ninos Nissan Philipos, 30, Mahir Muneb Hanna, 27, from Telkepe, and Johnny Youkhanna David, 30, from Dawedeya. Mr. Nabeel Matti, a commanding officer from Bartilla, was critically injured in the attack. Source: www.zindamagazine.com


August 26, 2005 - Bartella, Northern Iraq

While pumping gas at a fuel station, 37 year old Nabil Akram Ammona (married with 2 children) died instantly from a gunshot to the head at close range by the KDP peshmerges. When 55 year old Matti Shimon Zora Sha'ya (married with 4 children) attempted to take Ammona to the hospital, he, too, was shot in the head by the same peshmerges, and died.

Source: www.zahrira.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=845


August 14, 2005 - Dora district, Baghdad, Iraq

Ayad Dawood Gergis was driving his car to work when he was killed by unknown gunmen. Source: Associated Press


August 11, 2005 - Kirkuk, Iraq

Sa'aad Fouzi was kidnapped from the Sonobor Hotel on al-Muhafada Street in Kirkuk. His body was later found stabbed repeatedly and thrown in Kornish Street. Sa'aad was 29 and worked as an engineer for Northern Oil Company.

Source: www.zahrira.net/modules.php?name=news&file=article&sid=739


August 9, 2005 - Baghdad, Iraq

In Baghdad's Dura quarter (al-Mekanik), 22 year old Sargon Esho was shot and killed near Mar Zaia Church while buying groceries.

Source: www.zahrira.net/modules.php?name=news&file=article&sid=739


August 8, 2005 - Mosul, Iraq

While on her way to an Internet Café, Anita Theodoros Harjo, age 29, a student at Nineveh Art Academy, was kidnapped in al-Zohoor quarter. Her body was found thrown in 'Akkab cemetery.

Sources: www.zahrira.net/modules.php?name=news&file=article&sid=739;



August 4, 2005 - Mosul, Iraq

Armed men kidnapped Dr. Noel Petros Shammas Matti, 42, and his brother Amar. Dr. Matti was born in the village of Bartilla. His murdered body was thrown on the side of a road north of Mosul. His brother was released when $50,000 ransom was paid. Dr. Matti, married with 2 daughters, was a lecturer at the Medical Institute of Mosul University and owned a pharmacy.

Source: www.zahrira.net/modules.php?name=news&file=article&sid=739;



July 22, 2005 - Baghdad, Iraq

According to police and medical officials, gunmen fired at a car carrying newlyweds and their families, killing the bride, Salay, 22, wounding her mother, the groom, Wisam Abdul Wahad, 24, and the driver, Marcel Ishoo, in the southern Dora neighborhood of Baghdad.

Source: www.zindamagazine.com, July 23, 2005 issue.


July 16, 2005 - Habbaniya, Ramadi, Iraq

An explosion rocked the Assyrian Church in Habbaniya, Ramadi in Iraq.

Source: www.christianiraq.com/news/2006/01/11/list-of-reported-assyrians-murdered-in-iraq-in-2005


July 7, 2005 - Baghdad, Iraq

An Assyrian Christian owner of a Liquor shop was killed instantly after being shot by an armed man in front of his store in al-Karrada quarter in center Baghdad.

Source: www.iraq4allnews.dk/viewnews.php?id=90021


July 3, 2005 - Baghdad, Iraq

Younadam Youkhana Shimun, age 42, was attacked and killed in a hate crime. His son was also injured. Mr. Shimun was married and had two sons and a daughter. Source: Assyrian Democratic Movement Weekly News


June 2, 2005 - Kirkuk, Iraq

A car bomb exploded in the Arapha Assyrian quarter. 5 year old Randy Robert Alexin, riding with his parents in their own car was killed immediately, while both his parents were injured. Funeral services were held at St. George Church in Almas quarter.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=4370


June 1, 2005 - Mosul, Nineveh Province, Iraq

Ghassan Fahmi, 28, owner of Ghassan's D.J. and Recording business, in the al-Zuhoor quarter, was kidnapped by an unidentified group from his place of business. Two hours later, his murdered body was returned.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=4357


May 18, 2005 - Mosul, Nineveh Province, Iraq

Laith Zuhair Gibraeil Hoodi, 28, was killed when a rocket hit his home in al-Sukkar quarters in Mosul. His mother I'atimad abd al-Ahad was hit by many splinters in her arms, legs, and other parts of her body. She remains in critical condition at the hospital.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=26&topic=586


April 24, 2005 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

Ishaq Habib Kola, 52, from Alqosh, was killed by a bullet while inside his home. Ishaq had worked in the medical field for 25 years, dedicating his life to helping others. He was married with 4 children. His aged father was visiting from Alqosh as Ishaq died in his arms.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=3955


March 27, 2005 - Mosul, Iraq

Kifah Mattai Ibraham was kidnapped on March 3, 2005 and found murdered in Mosul 24 days later. He was 43 and married. He ran his own stone factory business in Mosul.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=3633


March 23, 2005 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

Karim Elia Abouna, an Assyrian originally from Alqosh, was murdered in the Assyrian quarter of Dora, Baghdad. An armed group of men entered his shop and shot him five times.

Source: www.ankawa.com


March 15, 2005 - Basra, Iraq

Some 30 hooded members of Mugtada al-Sadr (al-Mahdi Army) attacked a group of Basra University Engineering students who were on a picnic at al-Andalus Park, and beat them with batons and sticks "in the name of Islam." One Christian student, Zahra Ashor, was killed and 15 others badly injured. When a fellow student attempted to help Zahra, he was shot in the head. At least 20 students were kidnapped and taken to Sadr's office in al-Tuwaisa for "interrogation." The gang stole the students' personal belongings, cell phones and jewelry, and destroyed the tape recorder and music tapes of the Assyrians. The attacks were carried out because the students were listening to music and the females were not wearing the Islamic hijab (veil).

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=32&topic=1907


March 16, 2005 - Kirkuk, Iraq

Iraqi News Agency reported that General Wael Yousif Yacoub, an Assyrian engineer from Telkepe, was assassinated while returning home from Baghdad. Eyewitnesses saw armed men surround the general's car and shoot him. He worked as an officer in the Internal Affair Department of the Kirkuk Police and was credited with the re-opening of the Kirkuk Police Force after the fall of Saddam Hussein. General Yacoub represented the Christian voice in affairs dealing with the local Police Board and was a former officer of the Iraqi Army. Well respected in his community, General Yacoub was also a Deacon at the Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in Kirkuk. Recently General Yacoub had been openly criticizing the Kurdish position on the ownership of the city of Kirkuk. He became a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement after the liberation of Iraq on April 9, 2003. He was married and with 2 daughters. Islamist Ansar al-Sunna army has announced responsibility for the killing. Sources: www.zindamagazine.com (3/16/2005 issue); iraq4allnews.dk/viewnews.php?id=80989


December 2004 - Iraq

Hundreds of Christian families are escaping to Syria and Jordan before the arrival of Christmas and the New Year Festivities as they fear increased acts of killings against them.

Source: www.elaph.com/Politics/2004/12/27349.htm


December 11, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Sabah Hurmiz of Alqosh (married, 3 children) and his friend Saalim Potrus Daddaya of Batnaya (married, 2 children) were reported missing and found dead 3 days later at a Mosul hospital.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2424; www.elaph.com/Politics/2004/12/27349.htm


December 9, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Two Assyrian Christians, Fawzi Soorish Luqa of 'Ankawa, 43, and Haitham Yousuf Saka of Bartella, who owned a hall used for celebrations in Baghdad, were kidnapped from their place of business and murdered by an unidentified terrorist group.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2399; www.elaph.com/Politics/2004/12/27349.htm


December 8, 2004 - Ramadi, Iraq

Dr. Ra'aad Augustine Qoryaqos, a notable Assyrian of Bartella, a prominent surgeon, and a professor at the College of Medicine in al-Anbar University, was murdered by 3 terrorists who stormed his clinic while he was checking on patients. He left behind a wife and 2 children.

Sources: www.bartella.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1831;



December 7, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Al-Tahira Chaldean Catholic Church, one of the most beautiful churches in the al-Shifa' neighborhood, Eastern Mosul was destroyed when 10 armed men stormed the church, planted explosives throughout, and set the bombs off wounding three people. An hour later, gunmen bombed an Armenian church under construction in the al-Wahda neighborhood, Western Mosul.

Sources: story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=586&e=4&u=/nm/20041207/wl_nm/iraq;

 www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140751,00.html; www.peyamner.com


December 2, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Laith Antar Khanno of Baghdeda, 29, had worked for a foreign company in Baghdad and had traveled to Mosul to open a branch there. He was kidnapped for a ransom of $1,000,000, later reduced to $100,000. His family unable to pay, his headless body was found two weeks later near Mosul Hospital in the al-Wahda quarter, East of Mosul. His head was found later at another location. Khanno had been married for three years and had a daughter.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2329


December 2, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Imad Jameel Younan, 29, married with two children, from the Assyrian town of Baghdeda, was confronted by criminals who murdered him and stole his private taxi.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2325


November 30, 2004 - Salah al-Din

Baiji refinery driver, Sabih Mousa Abada of the Assyrian town of Baghdeda, 55, married, 5 sons, 3 daughters, stopped to help a stalled school bus when a car bomb exploded on a nearby road.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2325


November 21, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Sami Esho Khoshaba, 19, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, was a cadre in the al-Karkh Branch in Baghdad. He was shot and killed in Mosul, while on leave.

Source: www.christiansofiraq.com/update.html;



November 21, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Essarhadon Elia al-Qas Oraham, 27, married with a 2 year old daughter, was shot and killed near al-Mashriq Club in Camp Sara quarter by 2 assailants, attempting to steal his vehicle.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2256


November 19, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

2 Assyrian brothers, Muntadir As'aad Matti and Bashar As'aad Matti, from the town of Bartella were killed when a bomb fell on the shop where they worked at the Mosul market.

Source: www.bartella.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1669&sid=be7b477051b949af465606ea30fda461


November 8, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

According to the U.S. military, the first of 2 bombs went off near the Mar Giwargis (St. George) Church, injuring 18 people. The second car bomb detonated minutes later, less than a mile away, outside the St. Matthew Church, killing three people and wounding 34.

Sources: CBS News; ABC News; FOX News (Brit Hume Special Report, 3:05 p.m.);

 www.ankawa.com/cgibin/ ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2154; Daily Times; Reuters (NY); Los Angeles Times;



November 4, 2004 - Falluja, Iraq

Dr. Nadia Hanna Murqos was killed near Falluja while returning from Syria. Her husband and son were injured in the attack on their car.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2123


November 2, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Sargon, son of the Assyrian poet and writer Odisho Malko, was kidnapped in Dora. The family had to give the kidnappers their private car and pay a ransom to secure Sargon's release.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2102


November 2, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

An Assyrian family in Dora, Meekanik quarter, in Southern Baghdad, 'Alaa' Andrawis, 39, his wife Evelyn Malkizdaq, and their 10 year old son were shot at while in their car. Father and son were killed instantly. The mother sustained severe injuries to the head and underwent surgery. The parents had 2 other children. 15 days earlier, Andrawis' cousin, Yasmin Boodagh, and daughter were killed in Dora by a car bomb.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2102


October 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Three Assyrian girls were murdered in the Mechanic district in Baghdad for not wearing the Islamic Hijab (veil) or for "dressing improperly."

Source: www.nineveh.com


October 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Assyrian neighborhoods are receiving flyers instructing them to convert to Islam. One flyer urged Assyrians to mark in the special boxes at the bottom of the flyer whether they are converting to Sunni or Shi'aa. One Assyrian with 8 family members had to mark 4 shi'aa and 4 Sunni to avoid antagonizing either sect. Although he did not convert to Islam, he had to respond to this flyer per instructions, from fear of death or injury to his family. Source: An Assyrian caller from Baghdad wishing to remain anonymous


October 30, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Three men, two of whom were masked, confronted Ma'an Yousuf, an Assyrian man and killed him in his electrical supplies shop on Dawwasa Street in Mosul with three bullets to the head.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2078


October 25, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

4 unidentified armed men tried to force themselves inside the home of Nasrin Shaba Murad, an Assyrian Christian woman in Mosul. When the 42 year old housewife and mother of 3 tried to escape to her neighbor's house, the gunmen opened fire and killed her.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2019


October 21, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

The Mosul Municipal Office is continuing its unfair practice of selling lands belonging to Assyrian Christians right from under them and renting the lands to others. Sources: October 21, 2004 interview of al-Hayat with Yonadam Kanna, Assyrian representative in the Iraqi National Assembly; www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1975


October 21, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Layla Elias Kakka Essa (30's) lived peacefully in Baghdad. Economical hardship forced her to become an instant translator in the Assyrian quarter of Dora in Baghdad to support her 2 young children, Manar and Mina. She was killed in cold blood while on her way home after completing her 10th day of employment. The killer mercilessly emptied his bullets in her head. Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2029


October 20, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Many Assyrian Christian families have been slaughtered and killed. Mosul University imposes strange and unreasonable customs on the students. Hundreds of families have abandoned the city of Mosul and moved to Dohuk and other neighboring towns. Sources: The 18th Session of the Iraqi National Assembly addressing the escalating troubles in Mosul, as reported to the al-Sabah al-Jadeed (The New Morning) by Yonadam Kanna, Assyrian representative of the Iraqi National Assembly; www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1969


October 18, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Yasmin Boodagh, and her daughter were killed in Dora by a car bomb. 15 days later her cousin 'Alaa' Andrawis and his 10 year old son were also shot to death.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=2102


October 16, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

1500 Chaldo-Assyrian Syriac students from Mosul University decided to no longer attend classes because of the repeated harassment and threats they have been receiving from terrorists and Islamists taking advantage of the non-stability and chaotic management at the university.

Sources: www.iraq4allnews.dk/viewnews.php?id=67686ure;



October 16, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

In a coordinated strike against the Assyrian Christian community, the Church of St. Joseph in the west of Baghdad was hit at about 4:00 am. 20 minutes later, another blast ripped through the streets at another St. Joseph Church in Dora, southern Baghdad. 20 minutes later, St. Paul Church was struck in Dora. At 4:50 am, the Roman Catholic St. George Church in the central district of Karrada was rocked by a blast and engulfed in flames, leaving the wood-built sanctuary completely charred. A 5th explosion occurred about an hour later at St. Thomas Church in Mansour, to the west. The violence resumed later when an artillery shell was fired into a car parked between a hotel and St. George Anglican Church, said witnesses & US soldiers. Sources: AFP; news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3749520.stm


October 5, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Dr. Sanabel Noel Al-Tabakh, an Assyrian Christian, was killed in al-Wahda district of the city of Mosul on her way to work.

Sources: www.aliraqi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=39812; www.nineveh.com


October 5, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Social service workers, Taghreed Abd al-Masih Ishaq and her sister Hala, were killed in Mosul. They were residents and natives of the Assyrian town of Bartilla, in the Nineveh Governorate.

Sources: www.aliraqi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=39812; www.nineveh.com


October 5, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Tara Majeed Putrus, a social service worker was shot in Mosul.

Sources: www.themesopotamian.org/murder_and_oppression.htm; www.nineveh.com;



October 5, 2004 - Iraq

The Secretary General of the Society for Threatened Peoples, Tilman Zuelch who was in Iraq, reported that 20 Chaldo-Assyrian Christians were killed in September 2004 by Islamic terrorists and 80 more since May 2003. He also reported that 40,000 Assyrians have left Iraq for Syria and Jordan, and that Christian families in central and southern Iraq have lost all hope of living in peace among the Arabs. Source: www.epd.de (in Göttingen)


October 5, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

15 year old Fadi 'Aaid Khidir Shamoon was kidnapped in the 'Ain 'alaq orchards in Ba'asheeqa while riding a bike his father had given him. He was found in the most horrific manner. Fadi was barbarically mutilated, burned, beheaded, and thrown onto the Ba'asheeqa-Teez Kharab road in front of al-'Azzawi ranch. Earlier, Ba'asheeqa mourned another son, 14 year old Julian Afram Yacoub when he was hit in the head with a concrete block and then burned. The murderers have been targeting innocent children, forcing many Christians to flee their homes and villages.

Sources: www.bahzani.net; www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1855


October 4, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Gunmen opened fire on Hazim Sako (Abu Sarmad), the owner of a liquor store in the Assyrian populated Dawasa district in Mosul, and on his family. Sako died, while his family members struggle for their lives at the hospital.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1852


September 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

An Islamic group under Salah al-Deen al-Ayoubi, a Kurd, took responsibility for beheading 2 Assyrian men, Raymond Farooq Shimun, and Mosul University graduate Firas Hadi Potrus, 26. A CD depicting the beheading was distributed with no indication as to date. Al-Ayoubi reported that his group was a Kurdish Islamist trying to force Assyrians out of their ancestral lands. Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1719


September 23, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Pamphlets were distributed at Mosul University and covered the campus walls carrying the threatening message that an acid solution would thrown at the face of any Christian girl not cover with the Islamic hijab (veil) in the new school year. The pamphlets stressed that the threats were not directed at Moslem girls. Earlier, the faces of 2 Christian girls were burned with acid in the popular gold blacksmith market in Mosul. Assyrian girls fear attending university this year.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1810


September 27, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

At least 9 Assyrians were killed and others critically injured when a bus carrying employees of the Baghdad Hunting Club (Nadi al-Sayd) was attacked by unidentified gunmen early morning as employees left work for home. The 9 killed Assyrians are: 'Aamer Nissan (born 1968), 'Aadel Nissan (born 1972), Amer Khoshaba (born 1965), Emanuel Nissan (born 1945), Maradona Emanuel (born 1984), Na'aeem Gewargis (born 1978), Bassam Elias (born 1982), Rasim Elias (born 1984), and Amir Shabo.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1795; Agence France Presse


September 11, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

A car bomb exploded outside the Virgin Mary Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the Al-Sa'doun Park in the center of Baghdad. Eyewitnesses could not tell if the explosion was an act of a suicide bomber or if the car exploded by remote control.

Source: www.f21.parsimony.net/forum37811/messages/32035.htm


September 10, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Following celebration of Holy Cross Day, a mortar attack was launched on the inhabitants of the Assyrian town of Bakhdeda, in the Qaraqosh, Hamdaniya District. Three of the many mortars fell on roofs of homes where several Assyrians were injured while sleeping. 13 year old Mark Louis Sheeto was killed and his mother, Bushra Toma Sheeto, and his 8 year old brother Bihnam Sheeto sustained serious injuries. This attack seems to be part of a string of attacks planned to drive the native Assyrians out of their homeland. Bakhdeda (whose name was changed to Hamdaniya by the Saddam Regime as part of the Arabization process) was felt to be a prime target as it houses over 30,000 Assyrians and is at the heartland of the Assyrian region.

Source: www.aina.org/news/20040911181922.htm


September 10, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

A bomb exploded at the Assyrian Anglican Church on al-Andalus Street in Baghdad.

Source: www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PER170744.htm


September 2, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

In the al-Mayasa (al-Sa'aa) Christian district, the Assyrian Boulos brothers, known as the sons of Hasina, were famed for their patriotic stance in Mosul while defending and assisting other Assyrians. Khaled Boulos, 32, and his brother Hani Boulos, 28, were killed instantly when armed terrorists drove up to them, exited the car, and began heavy firing.

Sources: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1631;



September 1, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Gewargis Youaresh Nisan was killed in the heavily Assyrian populated district of Karrada (Arkhita) when a terrorist time-bomb exploded.

Source: f21.parsimony.net/forum37811/messages/32000.htm


September 1, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

In a terrorist attack on the Governorate of Nineveh building, Nisan Sliyo Shmoel, of the Assyrian Patriotic Party was injured. He was taken to a hospital, treated and released. However, the terrorists were awaiting his release just outside the hospital where he was struck with an unmarked car with no plates. Shmoel, 43, married with 5 daughters and 1 son, died at the scene. Source: f21.parsimony.net/forum37811/messages/31999.htm


August 31, 2004 - Bartella, Iraq

3 Assyrian women in their 20's, Tara Majeed Betros Al-Hadaya, Taghrid Abdul-Massih Ishaq Betros and her sister Hala Abdul-Massih Ishaq Betros were slaughtered in the Assyrian village of Bartella near Mosul while returning home from work at a hospital in Mosul. Another Assyrian woman, Amera Nouh Sha'ana, who was also returning home to Bartella and an Assyrian driver, Naji Betros Ishaq were injured in the attack. Few days earlier, terrorists left CDs in the region filming the slaughter of two other Christians from the same town.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1631


August 1, 2004 - Baghdad and Mosul, Iraq

5 Assyrian and 1 Armenian churches were bombed simultaneously in Baghdad and Mosul. 12 Assyrians were killed and some 60 injured. The churches were: Assyrian Catholic Church of Sayidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) in Karrada, Baghdad; Armenian Catholic Church of Sayidat al-Zohour (Our Lady of the Flowers) in Karrada, Baghdad; Chaldean Catholic Church Seminary of St. Peter & Paul in Doura, al-Meekanik quarters, Baghdad; St. Paul Church in center of Mosul; Chaldean Catholic Church of St. Elia in Ni'aayriyya oo Gayyara, New Baghdad; and St. Mary's Church in East Baghdad. Source: www.nineveh.com


July 19, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

Unidentified attackers with automatic weapons attempted to kidnap an Assyrian man, Hani Yohanna Naoom, 43, near his convenient shop on Dawasa Street, near the government building. As he tried to escape from his kidnappers, he was shot and killed.

Source: www.ado-world.org/en/news.php?id=336&lang=ar


July 17, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

An unidentified group using automatic weapons entered a pizza shop at the al-Zihoor quarter shooting and killing Adeeb Aqrawi, an Assyrian young man, working at the shop.

Source: www.ado-world.org/en/news.php?id=336&lang=ar


July 11, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

2 Assyrian children from the Chaldean Catholic Church, Sami, age 6, and Rami, age 4, were killed in front of their home when rockets fell in their neighborhood in the center of Baghdad.

Sources: London - Al - Sharq Al-Awsat Newspaper, July 11, 2004;

www.ado-world.org/en/iraq.php?id=175&lang=ar; www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1205


July 11, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Terrorists entered an Assyrian Christian home shooting 16 year old Raneed Raad and her sister, 6 year old Raphid at point blank range while their parents were out. The Assyrian family had reported being threatened but no measures were taken to protect them.

Source: www.assyrianchristians.com/commentary_massacre_july_11_04.htm


June 26, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

2 unidentified persons in a silver Opal threw a hand bomb at the Holy Spirit Church (al-Rooh al- Qudos) in the Akha' quarter in Mosul. The explosion caused injury to the sister of Fr. Ragheed, the church priest.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1162


June 23, 2004 - Basra, Iraq

2 Assyrian sisters, Janet and Shatha Sadah Odisho, ages 38 and 25, were shot dead in a car while returning home from work in Basra. The two worked for Bechtel, a U.S. company.

Sources: www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=5492570;




June 20, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

5 armed men kidnapped 22 year old Raymond Farouq Shimun, son of Farouq and Juliet Shimun, not far from his home in Mosul. 3 days later his body was thrown in a cemetery in a valley outside the city. His head was partially cut and his hands and legs were smashed. Cuts and knife wounds on his body suggested that he suffered before he died.

Sources: www.christianiraq.com/news/2004/12/19/violence-against-christians-in-iraq-special-report-updated-list;

 www.christiansofiraq.com/update.html; www.aliraqi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=39812


June 16, 2004 - Iraq

Edmond Anwar (Sulaymaniya) lost much money and merchandise when his alcohol and cigarette shop was robbed.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1091


June 10, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Janan Joseph, an Assyrian Christian, was shot and killed inside his home in al-Mansour quarter along with 10 other Christians in the quarter.

Source: www.sotaliraq.com/newiraq/article_2004_07_19_4004.html


June 7, 2004 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

Drive-by shooting resulted in the deaths of 4 Assyrians and 2 Armenians: Esho Nisan Marqos, Ramziya Enwiya Youkhanna, Duraid Sabri Hanna, Alice Aramayis, Aaida Bedros Boughos, Munah Jalal Karim.

Sources: www.zindamagazine.com

June 14, 2004 issue; www.aina.org/news/20040614200324.htm


June 4, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Faraj Moshe Markhai, was kidnapped and ultimately murdered.

Source: www.ankawa.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=4&topic=1090


May 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

An Assyrian woman, Nahrain Yonaan was blinded and her face badly wounded, from a drive-by attack and bombing. Sources: Los Angeles Times 5/21/2004; www.zindamagazine.com 5/24/2004 issue


May 28, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

Ashor Goriel Yalda was killed in his car by a grenade while on his way to work.

Sources: www.nineveh.com; www.christiansofiraq.com/update.html;



April 4, 2004 - Miqdadiya, Iraq

Emad Mikha of Detroit was killed while working with the U.S. Army as a civilian translator.

Sources: www.zindamazine.com issue 4/12/2004; Detroit Free Press, 4/13/2004


March 26, 2004 - Kirkuk, Iraq

Lieutenant Romeo Esha David, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, was killed in his home.

Source: www.zindamagazine.com issue 3/29/2004


March 22, 2004 - Dora, Baghdad, Iraq

An Assyrian elderly man Ameejon Barama and his wife Jewded were brutally murdered in their own home by Militants in the town of Dora, near Baghdad, Iraq. The husband's throat was slashed and the wife was struck repeatedly on the head.

Sources: www.zinzamagazine.com; aina.org/releases/20040613151448.htm


March 17, 2004 - Baghdad, Iraq

An Assyrian family was killed and others wounded after a bomb attack: mother Marta Eskharia, father Odisho, son Farid, whose his wife was severely wounded, son Zaia, older daughter Shmoni who survived because she was in Dohuk, however, her daughter was severely wounded.

Source: www.aina.org/bbs/index.cgi?read=21336


February 17, 2004 - Ankawa, Iraq

At the Ankawa Boys High School a group of students from the Kurdistan Student Union entered classes against school regulations while classes were in session, distributing applications to student to join the Kurdistan Student Union. The Chaldo-Assyrian Students and Youth Union protested the inappropriate, illegal, and unfair activities that disrupted student studies. Source: www.zindamagazine.com


February 11, 2004 - Mosul, Iraq

The Associated Press reported that Gunmen firing from a car attacked an office of the Assyrian Democratic Party in Mosul, injuring one security guard, according to member Napoleon Fatou.

Sources: Associates Press; aina.org/releases/20040613151448.htm


January 25, 2004 - Basra, Iraq

Bahra Newspaper reported that Dr. Sarmad Samee was shot in Basra.

Source: Bahra Newspaper; aina.org/releases/20040613151448.htm


January 24, 2004 - Telkepeh, Iraq

An attempted assassination was made on Wathah Gorgis, Mayor of the Telkepeh District in Northern Iraq while in his car returning from Mosul after meeting with the Governor of Nineveh. His car was met with sprays of bullets near the Dentistry College of Mosul. The Mayor lives in the village of Telkepeh which includes several Chaldo-Assyrian villages but has seen its Christian population drop from 98% to 50% with 4 mosques built and a 5th underway.

Source: aina.org/releases/20040613151448.htm


January 22, 2004 - Iraq

Terrorists attacked Elishwa Bedel Naser. Assyrian Star magazine Winter 2003 issue; www.nineveh.com; www.christiansof


Wave of retaliation sweeps Iraq

Shiite bloc's threatened walkout could lead to the government's collapse.

Los Angeles Times

By Solomon Moore
November 25, 2006

BAGHDAD — Iraq's civil war worsened Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks after coordinated car bombings that killed more than 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood the day before. A main Shiite political faction threatened to quit the government, a move that probably would cause its collapse and plunge the nation deeper into disarray.

The massacre Thursday in Sadr City — a stronghold of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr and his Al Mahdi militia — sparked attacks around the country, reinforced doubts about the effectiveness of the Iraqi government and U.S. military and emboldened Shiite vigilantes.

In a sermon Friday, Sadr, a strong opponent of the United States, said the Pentagon's refusal to grant full control of Iraqi security forces to the Baghdad government was leaving the populace vulnerable to insurgent attacks.

And as Sadr's militiamen took matters into their own hands in battles with Sunni Arabs, his political representatives demanded that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki signal his displeasure with the U.S. military occupation by canceling a meeting with President Bush next week in Jordan.

Sadr's representatives said they would withdraw from Maliki's government if the prime minister did not meet their demands.

In spite of an emergency curfew, gunfire crackled throughout the day and mortar rounds arced over Baghdad's jagged skyline, smashing into houses of worship, residences and shops.

By Friday night, at least 65 deaths had been reported in the capital and elsewhere.

A dozen or more Sunni mosques around the country were hit by mortar rounds and gunfire or were burned down by Shiite mobs. Masked members of Sadr's militia swept through Sunni areas, setting up checkpoints and threatening to execute families that didn't leave their homes within 48 hours.

Hurriya, a mixed area of the capital, saw some of Friday's fiercest fighting. Uniformed men in police vehicles roared through the streets launching rocket-propelled grenades into houses and raking Sunni mosques with gunfire, said an Iraqi police officer stationed in the area. The attackers killed three security guards at a mosque and injured 10 worshipers inside.

"They proceeded to bombard the building with rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades, starting a fire that consumed the structure," said the officer, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

Attackers ambushed As the uniformed assailants advanced to another area, members of the Battawia tribe, a prominent Sunni clan in the area, fought back.

"They were ready for them and … ambushed the attackers, countering them with RPGs and machine guns," the officer said. The ensuing fight brought casualties on both sides. A nearby hospital reported that it had received 28 dead and 32 injured.

The policeman said he and fellow officers stood alongside Iraqi army units near the battle, watching the bloodshed.

"The army did not interfere," he said. "And we [the police] didn't receive any orders to interfere. We would not have interfered even in the event that we were ordered to do so, because this is the Iraqi army's turf."

By Friday night, police had discovered at least 11 bodies around Baghdad. But the reprisals were not limited to the capital.

In Baqubah, 25 miles to the northeast, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen exchanged ragged bursts of machine-gun fire in the streets and lobbed thunderous explosives as imams called out "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," from the city's mosques.

Insurgents used bombs to destroy an office of the Sadr movement shortly after U.S. troops raided the building and detained six militiamen. Later in the day, militiamen responded by destroying a Sunni mosque and toppling its minaret.

In the far northern town of Tall Afar, a car bomb blast ripped through a crowded car dealership, killing at least 22 people and injuring 26.

In the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, police found the bulletriddled body of a pipeline security guard, and a bomb damaged the Wahab mosque, one of the largest Sunni mosques in the city.

In the southern port city of Basra, rocket-propelled grenades damaged a mosque, the headquarters of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and an apartment complex, injuring 15 people.

In Fallouja, a restive Sunni city in western Al Anbar province, a car bomb exploded at an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing at least six soldiers.

Meanwhile, a caravan of grieving Shiites drove casket-laden vehicles from Sadr City to Najaf's ancient necropolis to bury victims of Thursday's attack, the deadliest single incident in Iraq since U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Mourners carried the dead around the shrine of Imam Ali, the most important religious figure for Shiites after Muhammad, before burying them in the "martyr's cemetery," a series of plots festooned with Al Mahdi banners and posters of Muqtada Sadr on the edge of Najaf's tombstone forest. Amid wailing relatives and chanting militiamen, mourners lowered the remains into the earth.

"The reaction [to the bombings] will be huge," said Tahseen Ali Shareef, 28, a Najaf resident who watched the funeral processions. "The families of the victims will not be silent. The streets will be haunted with fear."

As Sunni and Shiite gunmen fought in the streets, Sadr and his followers lobbed rhetorical bombs into Iraq's political arena.

From his pulpit in the southern city of Kufa, Sadr called on Iraq's most prominent Sunni cleric, Harith Dhari — who became a fugitive this month after the government issued a warrant for his arrest for his alleged support of terrorism — to publicly forbid Sunnis to kill Shiites or to join Al Qaeda.

Sadr also demanded that Dhari, who is currently not in Iraq, issue an edict urging Sunnis to fund the reconstruction of a revered shrine in Samarra. Insurgents blew up the shrine in February, launching a similar storm of sectarian battles that left hundreds of people dead.

Sadr also reiterated his demand for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, whom he blamed for the violence.

"I denounce and condemn this incident which targeted the beloved Sadr City," Sadr said. "From this pulpit … I renew my demand for the withdrawal of occupation forces."

Sadr's political representatives in Baghdad, meanwhile, threatened to withdraw from the government if Maliki met with Bush as scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday in Jordan.

"If the situation does not improve, the government does not offer services and the prime minister doesn't cancel his meeting with George Bush in Amman, we shall suspend our membership in the parliament and any participation in the government," the Sadr bloc said in a statement.

White House officials said Maliki had confirmed that he would attend the meeting, and Iraqi officials discounted the Sadr group's demands as empty threats.

"I think this is a red herring," national security advisor Mowaffak Rubaie said. "It is more political posturing, but it doesn't mean anything."

But some observers say Sadr's demands could pose a serious challenge to Maliki.

A potential vacuum If the Sadr bloc carries out its threat of a political walkout, Maliki's government will almost certainly collapse, leaving an even greater authority vacuum that militias and insurgents could exploit.

However, if Maliki backs out of his meeting with Bush, he could be severely weakened, losing any chance of reining in Sadr's paramilitary forces.

Canceling would also signal to other factions that they might be able to run roughshod over Maliki.

"Sadr is basically challenging Maliki's ability to govern," said P.J. Crowley, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington. "He has to respond in a way that allows him to survive and actually strengthens his hand."

Anthony Cordesman, a former Defense Department official and a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another Washington think tank, said Sadr's challenge to Dhari might be even more dangerous than that to Maliki. If the Sunnis fail to satisfy Sadr, Cordesman argued, sectarian violence could grow even worse.

"It's going to take a couple days to know how serious this is," he said. "Will this lead to a large-scale civil war? The worse case is that this leads to enough misunderstanding and anger to drive the country into full-scale civil war. The more likely result is that it will take a week to 10 days to play out and depend on the Sunni response. A lot will also depend on what Maliki does."

Despite frequent complaints about the Iraqi government and the U.S. military, most of Iraq's political and religious leadership called for calm Friday.

In a display of unity, several members of Maliki's Cabinet — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds among them — held an emergency meeting to discuss the deteriorating situation.

And in mosques around Iraq, clerics preached about unity, intra-sectarian accord and blame for the United States.

"As we denounce the killings of the innocent in Sadr City yesterday, we must also hold the U.S. and British troops as well as the government responsible for what happened," said Abdul Kareem Ghazi, a preacher and supporter of Sadr.

"It is true that the perpetrators of these operations are the terrorists and Saddamists, but their tactics are designed by the occupation forces, and they are the beneficiaries of what is happening."


Battle shows strength of splintering militias in Iraq

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The messianic Soldiers of Heaven militia that fought U.S. and Iraqi troops this week in one of the fiercest battles of the war is among more than two dozen extremist militias operating across Iraq that are fast becoming a powerful, and hidden, new enemy.

U.S. officials this week expressed concern about the explosion of splinter groups in Iraq, noting that their sheer number makes a political resolution to the ongoing violence in Iraq increasingly difficult. One Defense Department official said in an interview Tuesday that the military is tracking at least 28 militias, many of them Shiite splinter groups, but it knows little about their leadership or command structure.

Paul Pillar, who served as the CIA's chief intelligence analyst for the Middle East before leaving in 2005 for a teaching position, said the number of groups continues to expand almost daily.

"It is very difficult to get a handle on all of the contours of the current situation in Iraq," he said. "This is a civil war on top of an insurgency on top of other conflicts. There is no one simple split between side A and side B. There are numerous subgroups and splinter groups that make it difficult to say any one leader is in charge of those who come under one label."

The battle Sunday involving the heavily armed Soldiers of Heaven killed at least 200 people, according to the Iraqi Defense Ministry. The intensity of the battle, and the sophistication of the group's weapons, surprised U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Several U.S. military and diplomatic officials said they had never heard of the group. The battle underscored the divisions that exist in Iraq, not just between Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims, but within the dominant Shiite community. Some of the groups are even more extreme in their views than Moktada al-Sadr, the powerful Shiite cleric who has until this point been considered one of the more radical figures in Iraqi politics.

"The whole idea of a monolithic, unified Shiite community is profoundly wrong, and any calculation that uses that assumption will get into trouble," said Reidar Visser, a historian of southern Iraq who edits the Iraq-focused Web site, historiae.org. "There is a belief that by inviting one or two select leaders to Washington, you may gain the confidence of the entire Shiite community, but that is not realistic."

Visser said that while Americans have had interactions with a few of the lesser-known groups, "they hardly have any contacts at all with a large majority."

The Shiite splinter groups illustrate the extent to which the U.S. enemies in Iraq have multiplied, from Sunni insurgents who were the prime focus of the war in 2003 and 2004, to the Shiite militias affiliated with powerful political parties that emerged in late 2005 and 2006, to the obscure religious militias like the Soldiers of Heaven, which was so heavily armed that it was able to down a U.S. helicopter.

"It's symptomatic of the current chaos that prevails, that small groups can emerge and become large forces," said Joost Hiltermann, an analyst for International Crisis Group based in Jordan.

Most press reports suggest that the Soldiers of Heaven were followers of Ahmed bin al-Hassan al-Basri, also referred to in some reports as Ahmad al- Hassaani, a prominent Shiite in Basra who claimed to be in direct communication with the Madhi, a messiah-like figure in Shiite Islam.

But an early report from the Arabic- language daily, Al Hayat, stated that the followers were led by a radical cleric, Mahmud al-Hassani al-Sarkhi, who is considered even more anti-American than his former ally, Sadr.

Sarkhi broke with Sadr when Sadr chose to field candidates for the Iraqi Parliament.

Sarkhi's name first appeared in the Western press last summer when his supporters burned the Iranian consulate in Basra and replaced its flag with an Iraqi flag.

After the battle against the Soldiers of Heaven, specialists on Iraq cited yet another group as a possible combatant: the Fadila Party, headed by another cleric, Muhammad al-Yaqubi, who has his own militia. Yaqubi studied under Sadr's father, but is a rival of Sadr.

The Shiite bloc of political parties that controls Parliament has downplayed divisions among Shiites. But more than a dozen Shiite factions command their own armed followings in Southern Iraq, including two competing groups that both call themselves Hezbollah, a family-run private army of the Garamsha tribe and armed fighters loyal to the Prince of the Marshes, an autocratic leader of the Iraqi marsh Arabs, according to Juan Cole, a Shiite specialist and professor at the University of Michigan.

Another little known-group, Usbat Al-Huda, or the Daughter of Guidance, claims to be a group of female fighters loyal to Sadr who are willing to carry out suicide attacks.

Cole said that even the grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, a moderate Shiite cleric, controls a team of tribal body guards similar to a militia that calls itself Ansar Sistani.

"There are a lot of these groups," Cole said. "Shiite Islam is hard to get one's mind around. It's not a hierarchy like Roman Catholicism. There is nothing to prevent someone from striking off in their own direction."

In addition to armed Shiite factions in the south are a host of Sunni groups that form the backbone of the insurgency in Anbar Province, as well as extremist Islamic militias operating in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"It goes without saying that the universe of insurgent groups in Iraq is both dynamic and fluid," according to a recent government-funded analysis by the Rand Corporation. "Groups appear, change, merge, divide, and disappear, operate under different names and sometimes under no name at all."

The 2006 Rand study, prepared under a contract with the U.S. Air Force, counted 28 different groups that had formed since the U.S.-led invasion, and acknowledged that there were probably many others.

A U.S. Defense Department official Tuesday confirmed that the government was tracking at least 28 groups, many of them Shiite.

Intelligence officials also are drafting a new National Intelligence Estimate assessing all the known groups that could threaten Iraqi security. Officials said they hoped to deliver the report to President George W. Bush and Congress in the coming weeks.

The Iraqi Constitution prohibits the formation of militias, but the Iraqi government officially recognized seven militia groups linked to mainstream political parties, with the proviso that they disarm and join the political process.

Yet, the universe of rogue forces has only expanded, as more obscure groups compete for loyalty and power in cities and towns.

"Despite these legal and political prohibitions, militias and other small armed groups operate openly, often with popular support, but outside formal public security structures," according to a Pentagon report on the security situation in Iraq delivered to Congress in 2006.

"Controlling and eventually eliminating militias is essential to meeting Iraq's near- and long-term security requirements," the report said.


Beloved Archbishop Buried in Iraq


BAGHDAD (AP) — A Chaldean Catholic archbishop found dead after a kidnapping was remembered Friday as a man of peace beloved by all Iraqis.

Mourners carrying flowers and olive branches wept and wailed as Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho's coffin was carried down the streets of a village outside Mosul in northern Iraq. They were led by a church official carrying a wooden cross affixed with Rahho's picture.

Rahho was kidnapped by unknown gunmen two weeks ago, just minutes after performing Mass in Mosul, al-Qaida's last urban stronghold. Three of his aides were killed during the kidnapping, one of many attacks on the country's tiny Christian minority since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

His body was found Thursday.

"He was a man of honesty, loyalty and peace," Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly told mourners. "He was loved by all Iraqi people regardless of their sectarian background."

Rahho was the most senior Catholic cleric in Iraq after Delly — who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in November.

President Bush, the pope and Iraq's prime minister condemned Rahho's kidnapping, which U.S. officials in Baghdad called "one more savage attempt by a barbaric enemy to sow strife and discord."

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraqi Christians have been targeted by Islamic extremists who label them "crusaders" loyal to U.S. troops. Militants have attacked churches, priests and businesses owned by Christians, many of whom have fled the country in a trend mirrored across the Islamic world.

The Chaldean church is an Eastern-rite denomination aligned with the Roman Catholic Church that recognizes the authority of the pope. Chaldean Catholics make up a tiny minority of the current Iraqi population but are the largest group among the less than 1 million Christians in Iraq, according to last year's International Religious Freedom Report from the U.S. State Department.

It was not immediately clear whether Rahho, 65, was killed or if he died of an illness while in captivity.

A Mosul morgue official, speaking on condition of anonymity for security concerns, said Rahho's body had no bullet holes. The official said police found the body in an early stage of decomposition under a thin layer of dirt just north of the city, suggesting that Rahho had been dead for a few days.

The archbishop had recently undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from his leg, according to church officials speaking on condition of anonymity for security concerns.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the archbishop's kidnapping or his death.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military on Friday said a suicide bomber who killed two people a day earlier in Zab, a village outside Kirkuk, about 180 miles north of Baghdad, was a woman.

Female suicide bombers have been involved in at least 20 attacks or attempted attacks since the war began, including the grisly bombings of two pet markets in Baghdad that killed nearly 100 people last month.