Imam Ali Mosque bombing
|Imam Ali Mosque bombing|
The Imam Ali Mosque
|Date||29 August 2003|
|Target||Imam Ali Mosque|
|Perpetrators||Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad or al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)|
The Imam Ali Mosque bombing was the detonation of two car bombs outside of the Shia Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf on 29 August 2003. The attack killed 95 people crowded around the mosque for Friday prayers, including Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, spiritual leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
The attack was devastating for the Shia community in Iraq, because such a revered cleric was killed and so many lives were lost. The bombing was the deadliest attack in Iraq in 2003. In response to the attack, thousands of Shia mourners marched in the streets of cities and towns across Iraq. The mourners, many of whom blamed Saddam Hussein's loyalists for the attack, held anti-Baathist protests. No one has claimed responsibility, and Saddam himself released a taped audio message in which he denied having any involvement.
According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was responsible for Hakim's assassination. They claim that Abu Omar al-Kurdi, a top Zarqawi bombmaker who was captured in January 2005, confessed to carrying out this bombing. They also cite Zarqawi's praising of the assassination in several audiotapes. Some sources even state that Zarqawi's father-in-law was the suicide bomber who detonated the bomb.
In July 2007, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said that an al-Qaeda in Iraq militant had been executed for his role in the bombing. More specifically, Oras Mohammed Abdulaziz, an alleged Al Qaeda militant, was hanged in Baghdad in July 2007 after being sentenced to death in October 2006 for his role in the attack and assassination of al-Hakim.