August 11th, 2006 04:59 EST
Khalilzad urges Iraqis to unite against terrorism By David Shelby
Washington – U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the August 10 suicide attack against Shi’a Islam’s holiest shrine, the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq. The attack killed at least 35 people and injured more than 120.
“I am appalled and saddened by today’s terrorist attack at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf. I condemn in the strongest possible language this barbarous action, and offer my sincerest condolences to the victims. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones in today’s heinous attack,” the ambassador said in a written statement.
According to news reports, the attacker appears to have detonated his suicide belt at a police checkpoint just outside the mosque. The area was crowded with Shi’a pilgrims visiting the holy site in commemoration of the death of Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad.
The shrine is dedicated to Ali bin Abu Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. Imam Ali assumed leadership of the Muslim community 24 years after the death of Muhammad, but was assassinated five years later. Shi’a Muslims believe he was the divinely appointed successor of Muhammad and therefore consider him the first rightful imam. The name Shi’a is derived from Shi’at Ali, meaning followers of Ali.
Khalilzad urged Iraqis to unite in the face of this attack.
“The time has come for Iraqis to unite against terrorism. Terrorists are the enemies of Iraqi unity, security, democracy and prosperity. In addition to uniting, the best response to today’s attack is for Iraqis with information about terrorist activities to provide it to the security forces,” he said.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)