BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. military spokesman on Thursday hailed a joint American-Iraqi raid on Baghdad's leading Shiite Muslim mosque as proof of that the Baghdad security plan is being applied evenly against all sides of the country's sectarian divide.
The raid, which took place Wednesday, angered the mosque's imam, who took the unusual step of canceling Friday prayer services at the historic Baratha mosque, where, Shiites believe, Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, converted a Christian missionary to Islam in the seventh century.
Sheik Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a member of parliament from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, denounced the raid, which the U.S. military said had turned up a cache of illegal weapons. The Supreme Council is one of Iraq's largest political parties and part of its governing coalition.
Searching mosques has been a particularly sensitive issue since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. In delivering the decree that legalized the security plan earlier this week, Iraqi army Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar said soldiers would enter mosques only if they were used "for illegal purposes" or to protect citizens from harm.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the U.S. military said the mosque was raided "during operations targeting illegally armed militia kidnapping, torture and murder activities." It said the mosque was used "to conduct sectarian violence against Iraqi civilians as well as a safe haven and weapons storage area for illegal militia groups."
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This is a good sign that Iraqi Forces with the US and coalition forces are not targeting Sunni's as was expected with the new security crackdown and are applying the rule of law evenly.
The Mudville Gazette has more good news coming from Iraq, here and here.
More to come....