Iran, Iraq and the Golden Mosque

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Iran, Iraq and the Golden Mosque

Questions linger over the rubble of the al Askari mosque, bombed in February. Who was behind it, and what were they trying to achieve?

On February 22, the massive golden dome of the al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq—known as the Golden Mosque—was blown to bits by a mysterious group of gunmen. The attack occurred when the mosque was emptied of people, shortly after many Muslim adherents who frequent the place for regular prayers had concluded their traditional pre-dawn devotions.

The following day, Reuters reported that an Iraqi military grouping, called the Mujahideen Council, led by al Qaeda, blamed Iran in association with the Baghdad-based Iraqi government for instigating the destruction of the mosque.

What makes this claim particularly intriguing is that the Golden Mosque is a Shiite shrine, the Iranian government is Shiite, and it is the Shias who dominate the fledgling Iraqi parliament. So, if there is any legitimacy to the charge that the Iranians in cahoots with the Iraqi government blew the Golden Mosque’s dome sky-high, where is the logic in it all?

Why would the Shias bomb one of their own icons?

Stratfor’s February 23 analysis of the mystery bombing inferred the strong prospect of collusion between the Shiite leadership in Iran and that of Iraq in the Samarra bombing. It pointed out a number of circumstances surrounding the explosion which indicate the prospect of conspiracy. The attack was carried out with impeccable precision, in terms of targeting, timing, the remarkable lack of any casualties (including the sparing of the temple guards, largely unheard of in such a jihadist attack), the lack of identity, and the escape, of the perpetrators.

As this article goes to press, there is still no claim of responsibility for this attack. The lack of any claim of responsibility adds to the mystery, and to the suspicion of conspiracy between Iran and Iraq. In addition, the coordinated response of Iraqi cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and rebel Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, offering protection to Shias through Shiite militias if the Baghdad government proves unable to do so, seemed odd, at the very least, unless there was collusion beforehand.

But, again, if this conspiracy theory is correct, why would Shiites bomb one of their own icons? The timing of the attack to deliberately avoid the loss of life among Shiite worshipers says a lot in this respect and serves only to deepen the suspicion that something devious was behind the Golden Mosque bombing.

There is no doubt that Iran would dearly love to foment civil war among the Shia and Sunnis in Iraq. In reaction to this mystery attack, the Shias in Iraq, despite lack of any evidence, began ferociously torching Sunni mosques and shooting, killing and maiming their fellow Muslims in retaliatory attacks, producing much carnage and loss of life. In effect, a spontaneous mini-civil war broke out in the wake of the mosque bombing.

Any escalation of such civil strife, fanned by the willing encouragement of Iran pitting Shiite majority against Sunni minority in Iraq, would make the U.S. presence untenable, with Iran already holding all the cards in the grand geopolitical game being played out for possession of Iraq.

But there is one other very intriguing aspect to the bombing of the al Askari Mosque, besides any strategy by Iran to trigger civil war within Iraq. Should Iranian President Ahmadinejad have, in fact, conspired with the Shiite leadership in Iraq to cause the February crisis, he may well have not only created the beginnings of a debacle for the U.S. that will spread uncontainable riot throughout the country, but he also may have, in a single stroke, delivered to Islam’s mullahs the longed-for means to cement unity among their disparate followers.

All streams of Islam believe in a messiah-like divine savior, the Mahdi, who, their tradition has it, will appear before the Day of Judgment. Prior to the bombing of the al Askari Mosque, there were at least two locations, according to Shia Muslim tradition, to where the Mahdi of Shia Islam, the Twelfth Imam, could return and bring the whole world under Islamic rule. One was the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, where he was reputed to have been last sighted going into hiding in a cellar in that mosque in a.d. 878. The other is the Jamkaran Mosque in Qum, Iran. It is this Iranian Muslim icon into which President Ahmadinejad recently sunk a considerable sum of money to prepare it for the return of his Mahdi, which event he has personally predicted will occur within two years’ time. It is from the Jamkaran Mosque that Ahmadinejad has preached some of his most vociferous words of hate against the West and against all Jewry. The place has a special fascination for this fellow.

With the destruction of the Golden Mosque, Islam’s focus on where the Mahdi will supposedly return is no longer divided over two locations. Only one of the two traditional locations now stands intact! That mosque lies in the nation which is the chief sponsor of global terror—now led by an Islamic religious zealot with a dangerous sense of nuclear-powered divine mission.

Ahmadinejad is motivated to empower pan-Islam into a grand crusading uprising in his effort to prepare the world for the return of his messiah. He is convinced the Mahdi will return to the soil of the nation from which he believes the new millennium will dawn: ancient Persia—Iran. To achieve that end, he certainly has the mentality that would lead him to sacrifice that which he regarded as an inferior Shiite icon, the Golden Mosque in Iraq, to raise the profile of his icon, Jamkaran in Iran, and in the process, pitch Muslim against Muslim in Iraq to achieve his perverse and demented goals. The blowing up of the Golden Mosque has all the hallmarks of such a devious mind being behind it.

For generations, the disparate factions of Islam have fought each other in internecine warfare. Divided thus they have not posed a threat to Western civilization for centuries. As the dust settles around the destruction of the Golden Mosque, the imams can now focus the attention of their feuding hordes on one single great icon, the Jamkaran Mosque, in expectation of their Mahdi’s imminent return, and in so doing religiously weld together the greatest jihading force against the Christian West since Saladin took Jerusalem from the Crusaders of the Roman Church over 800 years ago.