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Cablegate: Sistani Mosque Friday Sermon Strikes Anti-American Tone

VZCZCXRO6741
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0130 2221142
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101142Z AUG 06
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0696
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0683
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 0750

UNCLAS HILLAH 000130

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KISL PTER PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: SISTANI MOSQUE FRIDAY SERMON STRIKES ANTI-AMERICAN TONE


1. (SBU) Approximately 3500-4000 people attended the Friday
afternoon sermon given by Sheikh Sayed Ahmed Al-Safi, generally
regarded as a close associate and spokesman for Ayatollah Ali
Sistani. Al-Safi's speech was covered by several national
television outlets.

2. (SBU) Al-Safi told his audience that he did not want to talk
about fuel and electricity shortages, but rather about the
connection between the Coalition Forces and terrorism. He said,
"Terrorism cannot be active without official cover." Safi noted
that the American forces were supposed to protect Iraqi's
borders with Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and
Joran, but many foreign terrorists were still crossing the
border, killing more and more, and introducing car bombs into
the center of Iraqi cities. Where is the twenty-one billion USD
supposedly allocated for security, Al-Safi rhetorically asked.

3. (SBU) During his speech, he gave several examples of how
Coalition Forces cooperated with terrorists. An American check
point stops a man and asks him to leave his car, al-Safi
continued. A black hood is put over his head while they ask him
questions. In a minute, the hood is removed and the Americans
apologize. But when he drives away, he feels something is wrong
- the Americans have turned his vehicle into a car bomb, Al-Safi
melodramatically concluded. In another example, a man was
stopped by the Americans, his suitcase was taken away, and when
it was returned to him, he discovered that it had been stuffed
full of explosives.

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4. (SBU) Al-Safi referred to a recent VBIED attack in Al-Kufa
in the vicinity of Muqtada al-Sadr's home, claiming that the
Americans had ordered Iraqi police away from a checkpoint and
replaced them, later letting a car bomb drive through and
detonate, killing over sixty day laborers. The Americans are
talking about civil war, but are aggravating the fighting
between Shi'a and Sunni by dividing Baghdad into sectarian
neighborhoods, he stated. Al-Safi concluded that the Baghdad
Security Plan would surely fail because the terrorists are
informed of when the Iraqi security forces intend to strike
them.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Al-Safi is close to Ayatollah Sistani, and
this virulent speech is alarming. The content will be regarded
as truth by many moderate Sistani followers, and it will likely
be cited by members of the Supreme Council of the Islamic
Council in Iraq politicians in Najaf. The speech may indicate
Sistani is feeling increasingly pessimistic about a constructive
role for Coalition Forces in resolving Baghdad's security
problems. I END COMMENT

FONTENEAU

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