Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim

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Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim
محمد باقر الحكيم
Born 1939
Najaf, Iraq
Died 29 August 2003 (aged 63)
Najaf, Iraq
Political party
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq
Religion Shia Islam

Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim (1939- 29 August 2003; Arabic: سيد محمد باقر الحكيم‎), also known as Shaheed al-Mehraab, was a senior Iraqi Shia cleric and the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He was assassinated in a bomb attack in Najaf in 2003.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Al-Hakim was born in Najaf in 1939[1][2] into the Hakim Family of Shiite religious scholars. He was the son of Muhsin al-Hakim[3] and Fawzieh Hassan Bazzi. Al-Hakim was the uncle of Muhammad Sayid al-Hakim.[4]

Political activities in Iraq[edit]

He co-founded the modern Islamic political movement in Iraq in the 1960s, along with Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, with whom he worked closely until the latter's death in 1980. Though not among the most hard-line of Islamists, Al-Hakim was seen as dangerous by the ruling Ba'ath regime, largely because of his agitation on behalf of Iraq's majority Shia population (the ruling regime was mostly Sunnis). This led to his arrest in 1972, for promoting Nikah Mut'ah, a legal form of temporary marital relationship in the Shia sect, but he was released shortly thereafter.

He was partially blamed for the uprising in Najaf that occurred in February 1977, and so was arrested again, and this time sentenced to life imprisonment. However, his sentence was commuted and he was released in July 1979. The subsequent eruption of war between Iraq and (largely Shia) Iran led to an ever-increasing distrust of Iraq's Shia population by the ruling Ba'ath party; combined with his previous arrests, this convinced Al-Hakim that it was impossible to continue his Shia advocacy in Iraq, and in 1980 he fled to Iran.[1]

SCIRI and Iran[edit]

Safely in Iran under the protection of the Islamic Republic, Al-Hakim became an open enemy of the Ba'athists, forming the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI),[3] a revolutionary group dedicated to overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime and the installation of clerical rule. In 1983, Hussein responded by arresting 125 members of Al-Hakim's family who had remained in Iraq, and executing 18 of them. This further embittered Al-Hakim towards the Ba'athists, and towards Hussein in particular. With Iranian aid, SCIRI became an armed resistance group, periodically making cross-border attacks on Iraqi facilities, maintaining covert connections with resistance elements within the country, and generally being a perennial thorn in Hussein's side.

Badr Brigades[edit]

The former Iraqi regime feared Hakim because he worked closely with Irans' Ayatollahs. He created the Badr Organization which fought alongside the Iranians during the Iran–Iraq War.

Return to Iraq[edit]

Al-Hakim returned to Iraq on 12 May 2003 following the overthrow of Hussein's regime by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.[2] There he emerged as one of the most influential Iraqi leaders, with his longtime opposition to Hussein gaining him immense credibility, especially among the majority Shia population.

Initially he was very critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying "we do not put confidence in the Americans, they have always acted against the interests of the Iraqi people" and urging Iraqis not to follow the US administration's dictates. However, he did give the US credit for overthrowing the Ba'athist government, and through the summer of 2003 indicated some willingness to work with the Americans in setting up a civilian government in Iraq. Al-Hakim's brother and fellow Muslim leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, was appointed to the Iraq interim governing council and the two worked closely together. By the time of his death, he remained distrustful, but urged Iraqis to abandon violence, at least for the time being, and give the interim government a chance to earn their trust. Although Al-Hakim urged the abandonment of violence, the Badr Brigade was described by the Independent as "one of the main groups accused of carrying out sectarian killings".[5]

Assassination[edit]

Al-Hakim was killed on 29 August 2003, when a massive car bomb exploded as he left the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf.[6] The blast killed at least 84 others; some estimate that as many as 125 died in the bombing. It is unclear who was behind the massive bomb attack that killed him. Fifteen bodyguards of al-Hakim were among the killed people in the blast.[7] A spokesman for SCIRI in London suggested that supporters of Saddam Hussein may have been behind the attack; others[who?] suggested it may have been orchestrated by Sunnis not necessarily connected to Hussein who opposed the increasing Shia influence in the country.

The fact that his assassination came in the midst of a pattern of violence against Shia clerics in Najaf in the weeks leading up to his death (Al-Hakim was the fourth to be assassinated) led some to conclude that the attack was most likely motivated by anti-Shia sentiment.[citation needed] On the other hand, the violent history of rivalry between Shia factions and the unexplained circumstances of these attacks has led others[who?] to conclude that the attack was most likely carried out by supporters of a rival Shia leader, such as hardliner Muqtada al-Sadr.[citation needed]

Perpetrators[edit]

On 30 August 2003, Iraqi authorities arrested four people in connection with the bombing: two former members of the Ba'ath Party from Basra, and two non-Iraqi Arabs from the Salafi sect (a Sunni sect).

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. Muhammad Yassin Jarrad, the brother-in-law of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed that his father, Yassin, was the suicide bomber in the attack.[8][9]

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 assassination of al-Hakim.[10]

Funeral[edit]

Hundreds of thousands of people attended his funeral in Najaf on 2 September 2003.[11] They protested the US forces and demanded their withdrawal from Iraq.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Cleric slain months after returning to Iraq". Reading Eagle (Baghdad). AP. 30 August 2003. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Joffe, Lawrence (30 August 2003). "Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Muhammad Baqir al- Hakim". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Who is Muqtada al-Sadr?". CNN. 6 April 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  5. ^ “Iraq's death squads: on the brink of civil war” The Independent, Feb. 26, 2006.
  6. ^ Escobar, Pepe (2 September 2003). "Ayatollah's killing: Winners and losers". Asia Times. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Blamed For Mosque Attack". CBS News. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Zarqawi kin reportedly bombed shrine in Iraq", by Mohamad Bazzi, 7 February 2005
  9. ^ Mike Brunker. "Study uses 'martyr' posts to break down 'foreign fighters' aiding Syrian rebels". NBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Mroue, Bassem (6 June 2007). "Alleged Al Qaeda Militant Is Hanged". The Sun (Baghdad). AP. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Mourners demand vengeance for cleric's death". The Guardian. AP. 2 September 2003. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  12. ^ McCarthy, Rory (3 September 2003). "Shia mourners demand end to US occupation". The Guardian (Najaf). Retrieved 27 January 2013. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Office created
Leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq
1982-2003
Succeeded by
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim