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Cablegate: Irish Shi'a Muslims Plea for U.S. To Stay in Iraq

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 001216

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2014
TAGS: PREL PTER PINR
SUBJECT: IRISH SHI'A MUSLIMS PLEA FOR U.S. TO STAY IN IRAQ

REF: DUBLIN 1161

Classified By: AMBASSADOR JAMES C. KENNY, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B), (D)

1. (C) Summary. On September 26, the Ambassador met with
five prominent Iraqi Shi'a members of the Irish Islamic
community to initiate dialogue and advance post's Muslim
Outreach program. The Imam of the Shi'a community, Dr. Ali
Al-Saleh, expressed gratitude to the USG for removing Saddam
Hussein and solidarity with the U.S. in the fight against
terrorism. He stated that the commitment to Iraq must not be
short-term and that the U.S.-Iraqi partnership, if
maintained, will bring change to the Middle East. He added
that the very process of drafting the constitution was
changing the mentality of Iraqis. For example, he said Imams
involved in the process now recognize democracy and women's
rights as compatible with Islam. The Irish Shi'as have
concerns that extremists are operating in Ireland and do not
have confidence that Irish authorities take the matter
seriously. According to this group of Shi'as, the
terrorists' most effective recruiting tools in the West and
Iraq are the ideology of Wahhabism and the use of the media.
End Summary.

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Iraq is Key to Middle East Stability
------------------------------------

2. (C) On September 26, the Ambassador, DCM and Pol/Econ
section met with five prominent members of the Shi'a
community in Ireland to initiate dialogue and advance post's
Muslim Outreach program. Especially noteworthy were the
comments of the Imam of Ahlul-Bait Islamic Center, Dr. Ali A.
A. Al-Saleh. Dr. Al-Saleh, of Iraqi, Saudi and Irish
citizenship, expressed a strong sense of solidarity with the
United States and the USG policy in Iraq. He told the
Ambassador that the Iraqi people are grateful for the U.S.
intervention in Iraq, but that removing Saddam Hussein was
only the first and easiest step. He stated that our mutual
goal now is not to change Iraq, but to change the region.
Iraq is committed to regional stability and democracy and
needs continued USG partnership. The group of Shi'as also
told the Ambassador that much of the world wants the U.S. to
fail in Iraq and they are concerned that we will listen to
Iraq's neighbors, Arab press, Western press, and the Anti-War
movements and withdraw from Iraq. They were especially
incensed at Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal's September
24 remarks on his concern that ongoing problems in Iraq will
cause regional instability. They counter this argument by
stating the case that democracy in Iraq will flourish and
spread. They reiterated the urgency for continued U.S.
support and involvement in the long-term. In the short-term
they asked that we send more troops to help secure the
country for the upcoming elections and not falter in our
commitment to the Iraqi people.

Women and the Constitution
--------------------------

3. (C) According to Al-Saleh, Ambassador Bremer deserves
credit for pushing through the Iraqi constitution and
inserting language on the rights of women. Al-Saleh said
that though women's rights are protected under Islam,
cultural practices in the Middle East undermine these
protections. Due to the support of the draft constitution by
Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani, and now many other Iraqi Muslim
clerics, Al-Saleh said that minds are being changed towards
women. He added that the key to bringing democracy to Iraq
is to change the attitudes of the Muslim clerics. According
to Al-Saleh, if the constitution were adopted with the
requirement that women hold 25 percent of the parliamentary
seats, this right for women would be enforceable. In
contrast, in other Muslim nations, women's rights are simply
given lip service. He mentioned that in cases where there is
no mandate towards women's rights, there is no incentive to
provide for them. Al-Saleh also stated that before U.S.
intervention in Iraq, Muslims wondered if Islam was
compatible with democracy. Now, though, Iraqis are saying
that one cannot have Islam without democracy.

Extremists in Ireland
---------------------

4. (C) The group relayed to the Ambassador their view that
Wahhabism is the largest recruitment tool for Jihadists,
including in Western countries such as Ireland. (Note: The
Shi'a Muslim community here is considerably smaller than that
of the Sunni Muslims.) According to the group, extremists
are operating in Ireland, and they offered the following
reflections on the "moderate" Sunni community:

--Refusal to condemn the 7/7 London bombings.
--Reports of celebrations at the Sunni school during the 7/7
London bombings.
--Reluctance to join a moderate Islamic Council (proposed by
Shi'a leaders).
--Reports that Osama Bin Laden is mentioned as a role model
for children at the Sunni school.
--Reports of Irish Jihadists killed in Iraq.
--Concern that sleeper cells in Ireland have intent to cause
harm in the Republic.
--Concern that extremists deported under new UK terror laws
might relocate in Ireland.
--Perceived soft handling of extremists by Irish police, that
they monitor top suspects, but overlook lower echelons of
extremists, and that the Irish asylum policy leads to
citizenship for extremists.

Note: The above comments undoubtedly reflect the division
between the Shi'a and Sunni communities in Ireland. We
believe they were conveyed to embassy staff in good faith,
but contain some exaggerations and inaccuracies. End note.

Media Conspiracy
----------------

5. (C) Ahmed Al-Mousawi, a student at a local university,
said that the second largest recruitment tool for Jihadists
is media complicity with terrorism. By exaggerating the
numbers killed, and highlighting the negative, Arab and
Western media have drawn more support to the insurgency and
created a knowledge vacuum. Al-Mousawi said that attention
has successfully been diverted from the fact that Iraqis are
now liberated. He added that many Iraqis and Irish no longer
believe that the U.S. went to help Iraq. He implicated
Al-Jazeera as a direct cause of violence in Iraq and
associated Western reporting as a conspiracy attempt to
distort or ignore the truth, which, together, serves as a
powerful recruitment tool for young jihadists.

Milltown Mosque and the Current Iraqi Government
--------------------------------------------- ---

6. (C) According to Al-Saleh, the Shi'a Ahlul-Bait Islamic
Center, commonly called the Milltown Mosque, maintained ties
with Iraqi opposition groups operating out of London during
the time of Saddam Hussein. Some of the current Iraqi
leadership spent time at the Mosque, and according to
Al-Saleh learned from the Mosque leaders how to relate to the
West. Such guests include:
--Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari,
--Deputy Speaker Dr. Hussein Shahristani,
--Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Al-Bayati.

The Mosque is host to approximately 250 Shi'a Muslims in
Ireland, a majority of whom are Iraqi. Other nationalities
and ethnic backgrounds such as Bahraini, Saudi Arabian,
Kuwaiti, Lebanese and Iranian also frequent the center.

Shi'a Muslims
-------------

7. (C) The following is a list of the Iraqi Shi'a Muslims
that met with the Ambassador:

--Dr. Ali A. A. Al-Saleh-Imam of the Milltown Mosque.
Citizenship-Irish/Iraqi/Saudi Arabian. He is a medical
doctor by training. He has lived in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia
and Ireland. While in Saudi Arabia, he worked
to promote democracy among the minority Shi'a community.

--Khalid Ibrahim. Citizenship-Irish/Iraqi. He is ethnically
Faily-Kurdish. He is a member of the One World
Society and Frontline (a human rights NGO). He occasionally
conducts radio interviews in support of USG policy
in Iraq.

--Mohammed Hassan Ali Arafat-Citizenship Irish/Iraqi. He is
ethnically Turkomen from Mosul, Ninevah, Iraq. He is an
engineering student and the only Shi'a member of the Dublin
City University Islamic Society. He is post's nominee to
the International Visitor Leadership Program's "A Project for
Young Muslim Leaders on U.S. Political, Social and
Educational Issues."

--Ahmed Hadi Hussein Al-Mousawi-Citizenship Irish/Iraqi. He
is an engineering student at Dublin City University.

--Sheikh Khalid Baghdadi-Citizenship Irish/Iraqi. He is the
assistant to Imam Al-Saleh.

KENNY

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