Abdul Zahra Othman Muhammad > Another good Iraqi bites the dust
Washington Post 17 May 2004
reporters: Sewell Chan and special correspondents Bassam Sabti, Omar Fekeiki and Huda Lazim
Salim, whose given name was Abdul Zahra Othman Muhammad, was a newspaper editor and religious scholar from the southern city of Basra who agitated clandestinely against the government of Saddam Hussein, ousted in April 2003 by the U.S.-led invasion. He was jailed during Hussein's rule for his membership in the once-outlawed Islamic Dawa party, one of the most influential among several Shiite organizations.
Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni Muslim council member who was selected to serve the remaining two weeks of Salim's month-long term as president and through June 30, said, "We are determined, more than before, to fulfill the dreams of our lost colleagues.
"History will remember the criminals forever for their shameful actions," he said. "We must always remember our martyr, as well as everyone who was martyred before."
Council members also voiced frustration with the Americans for what they said was a failure to protect Iraqi political leaders or allow them more leeway to protect themselves. The killing increased pressure on U.S. officials to turn over more security responsibilities to Iraqi political parties, something they have been reluctant to do in a country deeply divided along sectarian and political lines.
Dan Senor, chief spokesman for the U.S. occupation authority, said the United States provides Iraqi council members with financial assistance, body armor, vehicles and training to ensure their security -- considerations that, he said, are "second to none."
Salim chose "to rely on cousins and nephews, which was his choice," Senor said. "And unfortunately, our records show that none of his personal security detail members ever participated in any of our training programs -- again, his choice."
From Mosul in the north to Basra, insurgents have been systematically killing Iraqi translators, municipal politicians, tribal sheiks and political leaders working with the occupation authority. The effect has been to isolate the authority from most Iraqis and the intelligence they could provide against the rising insurgency.
"If we had a real government, they would stop the Americans' behavior," said Shafaa Hamed, 41, who owns an electrical supply store in Baghdad's Kadhimiya neighborhood. "The Governing Council members are pawns, and Bremer moves them."
Can't wait till 1 July to see if the Iraqi Government is able act in a way that the Americans are not, rooting out the murderers, trying, convicting and imprisoning them and moving on to the essential task of putting the lid on this powder keg.
I am determined to go back to the country of my happiest memories before in a wheel-chair. If luck is with me my mother, who is 86 but comes from a long line of long-livers, will come with me. We will stand on the banks of the Tigres in the gathering dusk, waiting for the brightest stars imaginable, remembering the good old days, planning ways to find people we used to know all those years ago.
Last week I discovered an Assyrian site, earning that the owner of the Coronet Bookstore when we lived there, Aprim K. Pius, carried on running it till the 70s, but is dead. His elder brother, Mikhael Khammo Pius
, a journalist and writer, is living in the U.S.
Four people have been arrested in connection with murder of American citizen Berg.