January 14, 2012 | Suicide bomber kills 53, wounds 130 in Basra, Iraq

On this day in 2012, a suicide wearing a police uniform bomber struck a procession of Iraqi Shias, killing at least 53 and wounding 130 people.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the vast majority of victims of Islamist terrorism are other Muslims.

When I was an elementary student growing up in London (Ontario) I attended a Catholic school (Pius X). Right across a hydro corridor was a public school named Prince Robert. Except that we did not call it a ‘public’ school: we called it a ‘pagan’ school.

Catholic-Protestant relations in Ontario (and Canada) have not always been the best. The differences have largely evened out over time but it is interesting that as a kid I knew that ‘those’ children were different and I saw them as somewhat less than us. Nothing ever came of it – well besides some rather tense baseball games!

In other parts of the world doctrinal differences within religions can take a very violent turn. Islam is no stranger to this hatred and desire to kill. One of the longest lasting, and most vicious, rivalries is that between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Sunni Islamist terrorists REALLY HATE Shia Muslims

This long history is way too complicated for a blog, let alone one on specific terrorist attacks, so I will defer the reader to other works (NB if you are interested in learning more drop me a line and I will give you some suggestions). But, in keeping with the terrorist theme here it is necessary to point out that Sunni Islamist terrorists REALLY HATE Shia Muslims.

Shias have been attacked by Sunni terrorists in recent years, often during special holy days. One of the holiest is the the 10th of Muharram (a month of the Islamic calendar) and Arba’in (the forty days of mourning traditional in Shia Islam), both of which commemorate the death of Husayn, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala (680 AD in our calendar).

This commemoration is marked with very visible ceremonies that involve prayer and marching, some of which involves flagellation and self-cutting. Thousands of people chant ‘Ya Husayn’ and hit themselves with sticks until they bleed.

Suicide bomber kills 53, wounds 130 in Basra, Iraq

So, if you are a Sunni terrorist what better venue to target than one where there is a huge gathering of your #1 enemy? This is exactly what transpired on January 14, 2012 when a suicide bomber struck a procession of Iraqi Shias at the end of Arba’in, killing at least 53 and wounding 130 people. Iraq police stated that the terrorist was wearing a police uniform and had fake police ID, enabling him to reach a police checkpoint where he blew himself up among police and pilgrims.

Iraq in particular has a serious divide between Shia (who constitute the majority) and Sunnis (Saddam Hussain was a Sunni who outlawed many Shia events and engaged in massacres against the community). Terrorist groups take advantage of this divide, especially now as the Shia are running the show in that country.

Some might say that we should just let these Muslims resolve their own problems. Can we really condone the deaths of innocents? Is it ok if those who suffer are not like us and it is all happening ‘over there’?

Isn’t a life lost tragic on its own?

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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