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November Today in Terrorism

November 23, 2006: Car bombs target Shia Muslims in Iraq

On November 23, 2006 a series of car bombings struck Sadr City, a Shia dominated slum in Baghdad, killing 202 people and wounding another 250.

SADR CITY, IRAQ – Jihadis hatred for Shia Muslims even extends to occasions where they commemorate the deaths of their leaders.

I’d wager that for a lot of people in the West there is not a lot of savvy about Islam. Despite the presence of millions of Muslims in our societies many do not appreciate that there are doctrinal differences amongst various groups, much as there are in Christianity. Sure, we know about Catholics and ‘Protestants‘, but Sunni and Shia? Not likely.

In fact, the differences between the two largest sects in Islam centre largely on questions surrounding the notion of succession to the Prophet Muhammad upon his death in 632 CE. Debates arose within his followers on who should assume the mantle of the new faith and, vastly oversimplifying the matter, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali was passed over for the position of ‘Caliph’ (‘successor’ in Arabic). Those who wanted Ali were called Shiat Ali (‘partisans of Ali’), hence ‘Shia‘.

Why did I have to wait to be the FOURTH Caliph? (Photo: Public Domain)

Enmity and violence leveraged by the majority Sunni (approximately 90% of all Muslims) against the Shia are legendary. Most leaders of the latter’s community met grisly deaths and the 12th such head honcho has been in hiding since 941 CE. Some believe this man, called the Mahdi, will return to bring peace and justice to the world. And we DO need a lot of that to be sure!

Jihadis, i.e. Islamist terrorists, seem to really hate the Shia though. Attacks on them in a variety of countries – Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq are the top three – occur with relative frequency. Like today’s featured attack.

On this day in 2006

A series of car bombings struck Sadr City, a Shia dominated slum in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing 202 people and wounding another 250. In response, Iraqi authorities put Baghdad’s seven million residents under curfew and ordered all people and vehicles to stay off the streets until further notice.

I saw a car from a wedding party, covered in ribbons and flowers. It was burning. There were pools of blood on the street and children dead on the ground.

Iraqi photographer Kareem Al Rubaie

The attacks occurred while the residents were commemorating the life of Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, a leading Shia marja’a (cleric) killed by the former Saddam Hussein regime of in 1999. It thus demonstrated that Sunni terrorists cannot even allow average citizens to commemorate their dead, preferring to create more dead instead.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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