3 September 2003

Midday | Badr Brigade declares war on al-Qaeda:
Kufah: In the aftermath of Ayatullah Hakim's assassination, the US coalition forces found an unlikely ally in the militant Badr Brigade that declared a war on al-Qaeda yesterday, when the whole of Iraq observed tashiyyee (post-funeral rites) for the slain Shiite leader.

Hakim, along with 82 other people, was killed in a blast soon after the Friday prayers outside the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf. The blast is widely believed to be the handiwork of al-Qaeda operatives who disapproved of Hakim's collaboration with US forces in Iraq.

The one-lakh-strong [100 000] suicide squads of the Badr Brigade formed by Hakim in his lifetime for uprising against Saddam's regime had come out on the streets of Najaf, flaunting Kalashnikovs and placards bearing photographs of their dead leader.

'It's a death rattle for al-Qaeda and their friends. We will chase the killers of Hakim until our last breath and avenge his killing,' said a Shaikh who was leading the gun-wielding men on the streets.

In fact, when Sayed Ammar Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, the nephew of Ayatullah Hakim came out to pacify the crowd, the huge mob broke into one chant, 'Intaqaam, intaqaam, ya Ammar (Revenge, revenge we don't want to be shamed).' Ammar was overwhelmed seeing the crowd and broke into tears. Ammar asked the crowd to calm down and told them, 'We are used to death. We don't fear death. Rather this death has proved our love for Iraq more than ever.

Bremer's 100 days have come and gone. Security in Iraq is nil. Basic services have not been restored. The occupation is running out of money. The missing WMDs (remember those?) remain missing. And now the country is fast drifting into civil war. About the only bungle that the Bush administration has not yet managed is inviting the Iraqis to eat cake.

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