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According to government and political sources, the Iraqi minister for national security sends a report to the Iraqi government saying that the security of the “Golden Mosque” in Samarra was breached. The mosque is considered to be sacred to Shiite Muslims all over the world. (BBC 2/22/2006; Karouny and Ibrahim 3/2/2006)
The Al-Askari or Golden Mosque, in Samarra, Iraq, is partially destroyed in a bombing attack that devastates the ancient shrine. The mosque is one of the holiest of Shi’ite sites. The attacks are carried out by about a dozen men in paramilitary uniforms who enter the shrine, handcuff four guards sleeping in a back room, place a bomb in the dome of the mosque, and detonate it. (Worth 2/22/2006; Ridolfo 2/12/2007) The devastating attack on one of Shi’a Islam’s holiest sites prompts off a wave of Shi’ite attacks on Sunni mosques, Sunni citizens, and even US occupiers that eventually takes over 10,000 Iraqi lives and brings the country closer to full-blown civil war. (Anderson and Partlow 6/13/2004) Some local officials say that the bombers wore the uniforms of Iraqi security forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari says that the attack was possibly the result of “infiltration” of Iraqi security forces. The four guards found handcuffed will later be arrested as suspects in the bombing as well as 10 men dressed as Iraqi police commandos. (Knickmeyer and Ibrahim 2/23/2006) The Iraqi government will blame the al-Qaeda faction in Iraq for the bombings, though that organization’s responsibility for the bombings remains unclear. (Reuters 6/13/2007) One leading Iraqi Shi’ite politician, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, lays partial blame for the bombing on the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, saying that Khalilzad’s public comments on death squads operating within Iraq’s Shi’ite-led Interior Ministry were a provocation to the bombing. (Worth 2/22/2006) Shi’ite and Sunni politicians exchange accusations over the bombings, with Shi’ite lawmakers saying that the government ignored warnings about the attacks, and Sunnis accusing Shi’ites of bombing their own shrine to exacerbate discords between the two religious factions. (Karouny and Ibrahim 3/2/2006) President Bush promises to rebuild the mosque. (CNN News 2/22/2006) But the shrine is, as of mid-2007, never rebuilt, partly because of disagreements between Sunnis and Shi’ites as to how to go about the rebuilding process. (Ridolfo 2/12/2007) The shrine will be bombed again 17 months later (see June 13, 2007), setting off another wave of violent reprisals.
US Army Major General Rick Lynch speaks to reporters in Baghdad and claims that there was no warning in advance about a possible attack on the “Golden Mosque” in Samarrah. This directly contradicts claims from internal Iraqi government sources that say the national security ministry sent a warning to the Iraqi government about a breach of security at the mosque weeks before the bombing occurred (see Early February 2006). (Washington File 2/23/2003)
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