August 18, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 764

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Denounces Terrorism: 'What Pretext Can Justify the Bombings?'

August 18, 2004
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 764

In an editorial in the Iraqi daily Al-Mada,Dr. Burhum Ahmad Salih, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and former prime minister of the regional Kurdish government in Suleimaniya, declares that the fight against terrorism is a collective responsibility from which none is exempt. The following are excerpts from the column: [1]

The Terrorists Are Attempting to Foment Ethnic and Religious Conflict

"When you follow the terrorist operations in Iraq from the removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003 until today, you see clearly that they are heading toward a slippery slope that has no justification, even according to the perverse logic of the perpetrators. After they have raised the banner of 'resisting the Occupier' and targeting the 'invading forces' in order to 'liberate the country,' they eventually came to attack mosques and churches and markets, and to kill ordinary citizens mercilessly and shamelessly.

"In Ba'quba the terrorists targeted Iraqi citizens who stood in line to enlist in the police force and killed dozens of them and of the police. In the attack last Sunday [August 1] the target was worshippers in churches in Baghdad and Mosul, in coordinated attacks which had a clear purpose; namely, to stir up religious conflicts among members of the one Iraqi family. After having failed in their attempts to stir up civil war among Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, as well as sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites, they resorted to targeting unsuspecting Christian citizens, who have coexisted peacefully with their fellow Iraqis for hundreds of years. All of these are easy targets, because it is impossible anywhere in the world - and especially in countries like Iraq, which are founded on the culture of respect for human rights and law - it is impossible in all of these countries to protect every single mosque and church and every shop, university, hospital, market, and institution. It is also impossible to discover the intentions of suicide terrorists before they arrive at the act of suicide unless they declare them publicly.

"We have stated from the beginning that the claim to be fighting occupation does not justify the indiscriminate killing of Iraqis by suicide bombing or car bombs in public squares and markets, killing women, children, and the elderly. One cannot reconcile the higher values of patriotism, which prompt one to demand freedom and liberty, with the evil impulses that push for the murder of compatriots or human beings in general in horrible ways and under very flimsy pretexts."

The Terrorists are a Danger to All Humanity

"We held from the beginning that these terrorists, who are not necessarily in accord among themselves as to their goals, are a danger both to Iraq and to [all of] humanity, and all should adopt a united moral stance against them. Perhaps there are some who are susceptible to the slogans they use and so on occasion may find excuses for them, ignoring the hideousness of what is going on in Iraq, while others consider the destruction, killing, and lack of instability as serving their interest in the long run. I do not know what objective can be expected from the destabilization of Iraq. The terrorists' claim to be fighting occupation has not been accepted by the Iraqis from the start, since we have known that their goal is in fact to revive the hateful dictatorship of Saddam Hussein or to set up another kind of dictatorship, or at least to prolong the occupation as a means of continuing their malicious efforts to take control of Iraq, to exploit all of its resources for their own interests, and to prevent us from building a stable and safe country and from bringing justice to the people which has suffered oppression without precedent in modern history.

"Numerous indications clearly attest to what I am saying. For what pretext can justify the bombing of the offices of the United Nations and the International Red Cross in Baghdad? How can one justify the blowing up of the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf and the killing of the Friday worshippers? How can one justify the targeting of the people celebrating on the Eid al-Adha festival in Irbil, and what justification is there for targeting visitors [to the sacred tombs] in Karbala and Al-Kazimiyya on the 10th day of Muharram? [2] Is there any justification for targeting both Sunni and Shi'a mosques in the various cities of Iraq, or killing members of the Iraqi police, or blowing up car bombs in a popular market in Hilla, or the bombing of a school bus in Basra, or the killing of people who come to pay their condolences at a mourners' gathering in Ba'quba; what is the occupation that is resisted in such a manner…?"

[1] Al-Mada (Iraq), August 4, 2004.

[2] Id Al - Adha (The Feast of the Sacrifice) on the tenth of Dhu Al-Hijja is the most important of the two major holidays accepted by Sunnis and Shi'ites alike. The tenth of Muharram, known in Arabic as the 'Ashura, is the holiest day of the Shi'ite calendar and commemorates the martyrdom of the Imam Hussein (the son of Ali) and his family.

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