It has been a year since the murder of Iraqi Shiite cleric Sayyed Abdul Majeed al-Khoei. Only days after returning to Iraq from exile in London, he was hacked to death by a mob at the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf. Sayyed Abdul Majeed came from a distinguished family of Shiite Muslim clergy who promoted dialogue among Iraq’s various faiths. Growing up in Najaf, he witnessed first-hand the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime. In 1991, he was forced into exile. But as soon as Iraq was liberated, he returned with the hope of helping his fellow Iraqis to rebuild the country.
About two-dozen people are suspects in the murder of Sayyed Abdul Majeed al-Khoei. Among the dozen who have already been arrested is Mustafa Yaqoubi. He is an aide to Moqtada al-Sadr, the extremist Shiite cleric whose terrorist mobs have been attacking coalition forces and Iraqi citizens. And coalition officials have announced that an Iraqi investigative judge has issued an arrest warrant for al-Sadr himself. The warrant, said coalition officials, can be executed at any time.
Dan Senor is the spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He says that violence will not be tolerated in Iraq:
“The debate in Iraq today is not between any two ethnic groups or any two regions. It is between moderates and extremists, and there is no room for extremists in Iraq.”
President George W. Bush says that people like Moqtada Sadr want to decide Iraq’s future “by the use of force”:
“In this particular incident, with Sadr, this is one person who is deciding that rather than allow democracy to flourish, he’s going to exercise force. And we just can’t let it stand.”
President Bush says the extremists “want to shake our will”:
“And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. We will do what is right. We will make sure that a free Iraq emerges, not only for our own security, but for the sake of free peoples everywhere.”
The message to Iraqis, says President Bush, “is they don’t have to fear that America will turn and run.”