February 8, 2009: Terrorists target Shiite pilgrims in Iraq

On February 8, 2009 a roadside bomb exploded near a crowd of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 12

BAGHDAD, IRAQ – Shia Muslims have had a lot to deal with over the centuries without adding terrorist attacks to the list.

One of the more interesting aspects of Shia Islam is the concept of the ‘Hidden Imam’. Those who embrace this version of Islam have long been persecuted by Sunnis, who constitute the vast majority of Muslims (about 90%). Centuries after the initial slaughter of Shia at Karbala in Iraq (680 CE), every single leader of the community was killed by those in power. By the time the 12th came around, the so-called ‘imam‘, he decided that going into hiding was a good idea. That was in 873 CE (at the age of 4!). And he is still in ‘occultation’.

Let me know if anyone finds the 12th imam! (Photo: Painting by William Bliss Baker, 1881, Public Domain)

Nevertheless, enmity towards the Shia has continued unabated. Those seeking to commemorate past events, like the Karbala slaughter, are still targeted – by terrorists.

On this day in 2009

A roadside bomb exploded near a crowd of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 12. The pilgrims were beginning their trek toward the holy city of Karbala to mark the end of 40 days of mourning.

I woke up and went out, but it was still dark. I heard the screams of women as well as ambulances heading to a spot about 100 meters (yards) away from my house. When I reached the scene of the explosion, I saw about 25 pilgrims there.

30-year-old resident Mohammed Hafidh

Shiite pilgrimages have frequently been targeted by extremists in the past, prompting Iraqi authorities to tighten security along the main routes to the southern city of Karbala but this attack occurred in a largely unguarded area and showed the difficulty in safeguarding the hundreds of thousands of people making their way to the holy city. While no claim was made it is clear these were Sunni terrorists. No doubt acting on ‘Allah’s orders. NOT!

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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