The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s front organization, claimed credit for the massacre, on Monday night, at the packed Saint Joseph Chaldean church in the heart of the Karrada district, in Baghdad, that killed 52 Iraqi Christians.
Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.
“Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.
Chaldean (pronounced KAL-dee-en) Christians are an ancient ethnic minority of Catholics who make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. More than 600,000 of them, half the Chaldean population in Iraq, are thought to have fled the war to neighboring countries over the last several years as Islamic militants have targeted them in viscous campaigns of murder, kidnapping for ransom and forced property expropriations. Chaldean Christians represent about two-thirds of all Iraqi Christians.
Indicative of the Guardian left’s continuing efforts to blame all of the world’s problems on America, the UK (or the West, more broadly), CiF contributor David Wearing tweeted the following in response to the bloody attack in Baghdad on Monday.
David Wearing’s Twitter profile:
First, Wearing is attacking a straw man. Nobody with any sense reacted to the Church massacre by asserting that the incident proves Arabs are pathologically inclined to massacre each other. More importantly, his inference that diverse religious and ethnic groups (including Christians) were living in freedom and harmony in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein is simply breathtaking.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator – even by the standard of other totalitarian regimes – and certainly received the nickname “the Butcher of Baghdad” for a reason.
Here are a few:
The al-Anfal Campaign campaign
The brutal campaign against the Kurdish people in Iraqi Kurdistan was led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. The campaign takes its name from Surat al-Anfal in the Qur’an, which was used as a code name by the former Iraqi Baathist regime for a series of attacks against the mostly Kurdish civilian population of rural Northern Iraq, conducted between 1986 and 1989 culminating in 1988. This campaign also targeted Shabaks and Yazidis (both ethnically Kurdish), Chaldean Christians, and Turkoman people, and many villages belonging to these ethnic groups were also destroyed.
The murderous campaigns stretched from the spring of 1987 through the fall of 1988, and displaced at least a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population. Independent sources estimate 100,000 to more than 150,000 deaths and as many as 100,000 widows and an even greater number of orphans.
The campaign has been characterized as genocidal in nature. According to the Iraqi prosecutors, as many as 180,000 people were killed.
Chemical Weapons Against Kurds
As early as April 1987, the Iraqis used chemical weapons to remove Kurds from their villages in northern Iraq during the Anfal campaign. It is estimated that chemical weapons were used on approximately 40 Kurdish villages, with the largest of these attacks occurring on March 16, 1988 against the Kurdish town of Halabja.
Beginning on March 16, 1988 Iraqis rained down bombs filled with a deadly mixture of mustard gas and nerve agents on Halabja. Immediate effects of the chemicals included blindness, vomiting, blisters, convulsions, and asphyxiation. Approximately 5,000 women, men, and children died within days of the attacks. Long-term effects included permanent blindness, cancer, and birth defects. An estimated 10,000 lived, but live daily with the disfigurement and sicknesses from the chemical weapons.
Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid was directly in charge of the chemical attacks against the Kurds, earning him the epithet, “Chemical Ali.”
Shiite Uprising & the Marsh Arabs
At the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, southern Shiites and northern Kurds rebelled against Hussein’s regime. In retaliation, Iraq brutally suppressed the uprising, killing thousands of Shiites in southern Iraq.
As punishment for supporting the Shiite rebellion in 1991, Saddam Hussein’s regime killed thousands of Marsh Arabs, bulldozed their villages, and systematically ruined their way of life. The Marsh Arabs had lived for thousands of years in the marshlands located in southern Iraq until Iraq built a network of canals, dykes, and dams to divert water away from the marshes. The Marsh Arabs were forced to flee the area, their way of life decimated.
Whatever one’s opinion about the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, to argue that there was ethnic harmony before the U.S. led invasion reminds me of those who argued that their was “ethnic harmony” in the former Soviet Union – pointing to the ethnic violence which occurred in the former Soviets states once they were freed from the communist yoke. Yes, totalitarian regimes have this uncanny ability to keep “ethnic” peace, by massacring and oppressing at will to maintain such “harmony”.
The intentional murder of civilians in Iraq – whether they be Christians or other Muslims – by Al Qaeda, and other Islamic extremists is not an indictment against the U.S. or Britain. Those who engage in such despicable acts are responsible for their own behavior. You don’t have to be a cheerleader for the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to celebrate the fact that a nation is now free of a brutal dictator, and now enjoys the fruits of a flawed but true democracy for the first time in its history.
I’d bet if David Wearing were to ask average Iraqis, they’d tell him – despite the chronic violence – they’re still, at the end of the day, grateful to be a free people, and have no interest in returning to the “stability” of tyranny. One need only look at the proud faces of Iraqi voters – who’ve been turning out at the poles to vote despite the enormous risk of terrorist violence – to understand that the universal human desire for freedom trumps the desire for the “safety” of oppression.