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Al Qaeda ally in Iraq says all Christians 'legitimate targets'

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Author Topic: Al Qaeda ally in Iraq says all Christians 'legitimate targets'  (Read 649 times)
« on: November 06, 2010, 01:22:17 pm »


Iraqi Christian women react during a funeral for two slain priests and their parishioners in Baghdad on Nov. 2. The Islamic State of Iraq, an insurgent group and Al Qaeda ally, on Tuesday declared all the country's Christians 'legitimate targets.'

The Islamic State of Iraq, an insurgent group and Al Qaeda ally, on Tuesday declared all the country's Christians "legitimate targets."

The group says it believes that Muslim women are being held against their will in Coptic churches in Egypt. The Egyptian state; the Coptic church; and Egypt's leading Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, have all condemned the threats of violence against Christians.

The threat came while Iraq was still reeling from a series of car bombs across the capital Tuesday that killed at least 113 people in Shiite neighborhoods. The attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab militants like the Islamic State of Iraq. Tuesday's massacre appeared designed to fuel sectarian violence against Shiites.

That followed Sunday's targeting of Christians, when the Islamic State of Iraq seized a Catholic church in Baghdad and killed 58 people during a standoff with police. It was said to be the deadliest attack against Christians ever recorded in Iraq.

“All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahideen [holy warriors]," the Islamic State of Iraq said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.

Sunni militant chatrooms have been inflamed in recent weeks with claims that the Egyptian Coptic church is forcibly holding two women, wives of Coptic priests, who converted to Islam. “Let these idolaters, and at their forefront, the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican, know that the killing sword will not be lifted from the necks of their followers until they declare their innocence from what the dog of the Egyptian Church is doing," the message continued.

The Coptic church is the Egyptian branch of the Eastern Orthodox right and as many as 10 percent of Egyptians claim the faith.

One of the women, Camilia Shehata, went missing for a few days in July. After police escorted her home, Islamist protesters said she was being forcibly detained after converting to Islam. The other woman, Wafa Constantine, was held at a convent after her husband refused to grant her a divorce and rumors that she had converted circulated, reported Agence France-Presse.

After Sunday, Iraqi church leaders blamed the Iraqi government for failing to prevent the deadliest attack since before Iraq’s March election, reported The Christian Science Monitor. “If the sons of this country cannot live in peace, then the situation is clearly unacceptable. Had we been provided with adequate security, this would not have happened,” Syriac church official Monsignor Pius Kasha told the Monitor.

Tuesday's attacks in Shiite neighborhoods, however, were far deadlier, with at least 17 car bombs detonated mostly over a period of 90 minutes, reported The Los Angeles Times. The attacks bore the signature of Al Qaeda in Iraq and underscored the fragility of the country, reported the Times:

    The mayhem underscored the extent to which violence continues to define Iraq, even as American troops depart and memories of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion retreat from American consciousness. Each deadly incident, whether a fatal shooting or a major explosion, fuels foreboding that Iraq could once more fall apart as the nation seeks to function without a new government eight months after national elections.

Christians were also targeted ahead of the March elections. The Monitor's Jane Arraf visited the city of Arbil in northern Iraq to speak with the family of Adnan Hannah al-Dahan, who was the first of at least eight Iraqi Christians killed in the weeks leading up to the vote.

    The murders have led to an exodus of one of the troubled city’s oldest minorities and fears that the attacks will keep Christians from voting in the Iraq election, scheduled for next week.

    Iraq's Christian community is one of the world's oldest. But since the 2003 invasion, church bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations have scattered the community. Last year, Human Rights Watch estimated that two-thirds of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes since the war began.

In a recent background briefing, the Monitor found that the search for better opportunities abroad, a Christian's status as a target of Iraq's sectarian conflict, a low birth rate, and discrimination were all fueling the decline of Christians in the Middle East.
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2010, 01:47:47 pm »

Bombs kill over 100 as Iraqi Christians mourn
Bombings occurred hours after a memorial service for some of the 52 hostages and police killed in Sunday's church raid.

A series of bombs rocked mainly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 100 people and wounding dozens two days after al Qaida militants staged a bloodbath when they took hostages in a Christian church.

The bombings occurred hours after a memorial service for some of the 52 hostages and police killed in Sunday's church raid, and as the Iraqi government vowed to step up security for Iraq's Christian minority.

The third major assault in Iraq since Friday appeared to demonstrate that a weakened but stubborn insurgency has a greater capacity to carry out large-scale strikes than U.S. and Iraqi officials have acknowledged.

Iraq remains in political limbo almost eight months after an inconclusive election, raising fears that Sunni Islamist groups like al Qaeda might exploit the tensions to try and reignite sectarian war.

"The initial death toll we have so far is 40 killed, 80 wounded, I repeat, it is an initial death toll," Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said, adding that there had been 14 explosions in all.

"(They were) all in Shi'ite neighbourhoods."

Health Minister Saleh al-Hasnawi said 36 people died, but that could rise, and 320 were wounded, most of whom had been released from hospitals. One police source, who asked not to be named, said the eventual death toll could exceed 100.

One of the biggest explosions appeared to target restaurants and cafes in the Shi'ite slum of Sadr City.

The latest series of strikes came two months after the U.S. military formally ended combat operations in Iraq 7-1/2 years after the invasion, and the Iraqi security forces took on primary responsibility for protecting the public.

Sunday's attack was the worst against Iraq's Christians since 2003, and drove fear deep into the hearts of many Iraqi Christians who had so far resisted the urge to flee their
war-torn country.

"Why don't they tell us frankly if they aim at emptying the country of the Christians? This is our country. We will stick to it. It is absolutely barbaric to target people who are praying," Bishop Matti Shaba Matoka, head of the Syrian Catholic Parish in Baghdad, told Reuters at the memorial service.

Fourteen coffins

Security was tight around the Chaldean Saint Joseph Church, where the service was held. Fourteen coffins, draped in Iraqi flags, were lined up near the main podium. Wails echoed throughout the church during the service.

Moussawi said an investigation had been launched to find out how al Qaeda-linked gunmen managed to storm the church despite checkpoints, and that anyone found to have been negligent or complicit would be held accountable.

He said the assailants were disguised as guards working for a private security firm and carried fake identification.

Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassim said authorities ordered the detention of the police commander in charge of the district where the church attack took place for questioning, a standard procedure after high-profile attacks.

Jassim vowed to step up security for Iraq's Christians.

"Christians are our folk and it's our duty to protect them. You can't imagine how much we regret what happened," he said.

Gunmen tied to an Iraqi al Qaeda offshoot seized the hostages at the Our Lady of Salvation Church, a Syrian Catholic cathedral, during Sunday mass, demanding the release of women they said had converted to Islam but were being detained by the
Coptic church in Egypt. Early reports said they also sought the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

The attack, which lasted several hours, ended when security forces raided the church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics.

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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2010, 01:48:47 pm »

Iraqi police commander held in church attack

An Iraqi police commander was detained for questioning Tuesday in connection with the deadly attack on a Catholic church in the capital as a top political leader blamed the carnage in part on lax security.

Meanwhile, hundreds of grieving Christians and other Iraqis packed a funeral service for the dead in a sanctuary not far from the Our Lady of Salvation Church, where Islamic militants killed 58 people and wounded nearly 80 in a shocking attack during a Sunday-evening Mass.

Iraq's top Catholic prelate, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, urged the government to protect the nation's Christian community and not let their promises just be ink on paper.

"We are gathered here in this sacred house to say farewell for our brothers who were just the day before yesterday exclaiming love and peace," Cardinal Delly told a weeping congregation at the Chaldean St. Joseph Church in central Baghdad. "Now fate has decided that they will leave us."

An Iraqi military spokesman said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the detention of the police commander, whom he did not identify by name. The commander was in charge of securing the Karradah neighborhood in Baghdad where Our Lady of Salvation is located.

The attack was the worst in years on Iraq's already dwindling Christian community.

Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the assault was "very painful" for the stunned nation because "it harbors a sinister plan to empty the region of one of its main components: the Christians."

"Such bombings in Iraq refer to an important security breach which should be quickly handled," Mr. Abdul-Mahdi, in Damascus, Syria, told the Associated Press.

Mr. Abdul-Mahdi is a top leader of a fundamentalist Shi'ite political coalition in Iraq that is reluctant to support Mr. al-Maliki for a second term in office.

France offered late Monday to grant asylum to 150 Iraqi Christians, including some of those wounded in the siege.

Story Continues → http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/2/iraqi-police-commander-held-church-attack/
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2010, 01:51:44 pm »

Christians ‘on verge of extinction’ in Iraq, Muslim leader warns

A Muslim leader is calling on the Iraqi government and US-led forces to step up their efforts to protect the Christian minority in Iraq from extinction.

Navaid Hamid, Secretary of the South Asian Council for Minorities (SACM) and a Muslim, said the deadly attack last weekend on a church in Baghdad was a heinous crime that should be strongly condemned by the international community.

“With the murderous attack, the safety of Iraq’s Christian minority has become critical and it is the prime responsibility not only of the regime in Baghdad but also that of the allied forces led by [the] US to restore confidence and provide safety because never in the history of Iraq, minorities were so vulnerable [sic],” he said.

Around 58 people are believed to have died when al-Qaeda linked militants stormed the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad and opened fire on the congregation.

Hamid said Christians in Iraq were “paying a high price” for their faith and living in fear because of the “unprecedented” levels of violence against them.

“It is a fact that they are on the verge of extinction in Iraq,” he said.

An estimated 400,000 Christians have left Iraq and sought asylum in the US and Europe because of the persecution they face in Iraq.

The biggest victims of the US-led invasion of Iraq, Hamid said, were its minorities.

“[They] have become easy target [sic] for terrorist attacks in their own country,” he said.

Earlier this week, Christian and Muslim leaders issued a joint statement condemning the attack on the church in Baghdad. Signatories of the letter included Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan and representatives of the World Council of Churches.

They said the attack was an “inhumane” act that “contradicts all religious teachings and Middle Eastern culture that enabled people to coexist for many centuries”.

They called on the UN Security Council and Iraqi officials to put an end to terrorist attacks “aimed at degrading Iraqi people … and defiling Christian and Islamic sacred places”.

The Islamic State of Iraq, the group which claimed responsibility for the attack, has threatened to continue targeting Christians. It says it attacked the church in retaliation for the supposed detention of two women converts to Islam by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

According to the Associated Press, the Church’s head, Pope Shenouda III, said God had turned the attack to good by creating sympathy for his church.

Christians who turned up to St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo for Wednesday’s service were made to pass through metal detectors before being allowed in.

Addressing the congregation, Shenouda said: “God either prevents evil or turns it to good. Affirming that everything turns to good, the message that reached us brought sympathy for us from the Noble Al-Azhar [a revered institution of higher learning in Egypt] and from many writers and journalists and the interior ministry and police.”

In Iraq, armed security guards have been placed outside some churches after last Sunday's attack.

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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2010, 01:54:30 pm »

It is the untold disgusting story of the Iraq war.

The bible belt seems awfully good at backing policy that expels christians from the middle east.
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