ANKARA: ‘Church Attacks are the work of a new group’

Zaman, Turkey
Aug 3 2004

‘Church Attacks are the work of a new group’

A new group that calls itself the “Iraq Planning and Watch
Committee” claimed responsibility for the attacks on five churches in
the Iraqi cities of Musul (Mosul) and Bagdat (Baghdad) on Sunday,
August 1.

“The fighters for the Islamic faith have committed the attacks on
churches of the crusaders’ bad, fetid and corrupt Christianity with
car bombs,” the group posted on its website. “The war in Iraq and
Afghanistan no doubt is a crusade aimed at Islam and Muslims. The US
and the agents never hesitated to fight against Islam with the Pope’s

The Iraqi government believes that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who is
linked to Al Qaeda, executed the attacks that claimed the lives of 11
people. A Security Adviser to the Iraqi government, Muvaffaq Al
Rubai, said yesterday there is no doubt that Al Zarqawi operated the
attacks. Clues furthermore indicate that Zarqawi supporters targeted
the churches. Al Rubai said that the attacks were orchestrated so
that Christians would flee the country, “Al Zarqawi and his followers
are trying to come between Muslims and Christians,” concluded Al

The highest authority among Shiites, Ali Al Huseyni Al Sistani,
called the coordinated attacks a crime. The Vatican, Arab Emirates,
and the Organization of Islamic Conference also condemned the events.
Two of the churches served the Armenian and Catholic communities.
650,000 Christians, most of who reside in Baghdad, live in Iraq.
Iraqi Keldanis and Syriacs are the most important Christian groups.

In related news, one person was killed during a skirmish between
Muqtada Al-Sadr’s militia, and the US forces that surrounded Sadr’s
house in Necef (Najaf) yesterday.