Sunday, August 15, 2004

Najaf - Something Big's About To Go Down

I loath dealing in speculation, particularly when it comes to discussing the situation in Iraq. This afternoon, however, rumors swirling around the developing situation in Najaf echo disturbingly:

AP: Iraq Evicts Reporters From Najaf:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi police ordered all journalists to leave the holy city of Najaf on Sunday, just as a new U.S. offensive against militants hiding out in a revered shrine there began.

Four police cars surrounded a hotel in the city where journalists were staying and presented the order signed by Najaf's police chief, Brig. Ghalib al-Jazaari.

...Earlier Sunday, police had advised reporters to leave Najaf, saying there was rumor of a potential car bombing targeting journalists. When most reporters stayed, the police returned with the order to leave.
Then, courtesy of Newshounds, comes this:

Just announced from Iraq: The insurgents may have planted bombs in the Imam Ali mosque. All news reporters have been asked to leave Najaf for their own safety. Earlier today FOX News Weekend reported that 55,000 troops are being redeployed back to the United States from Germany and several thousand more from Korea. The story continues that Iran is supplying al-Sadr with troops and supplies.
Again, as far as I'm concerned, everything except the journalists issue is strictly rumor to this point. But it adds up - particularly since the above paragraph apparently only appeared on Fox. It's not on the Fox website, and a quick scan of AFP, Reuters, AP and al-Jazeera could not determine confirmation.

I'm quite sure I don't have to lay out what this means if in fact there's anything to it. What bothers me terribly is that only Fox seems to have the "bombs in the mosque" meme going. So, where did that come from if I can't source it from any credible news outlet on the web? If something does indeed blow up on the inside of the mosque, who's going to do the forensics to determine the actual source of the explosion? Probably the same crew that did Waco...

Just seems like this thing keeps getting worse and worse. I'm sniffing something big about to happen. Hope I'm wrong.

Recommended link to keep up on Najaf action: Juan Cole.

Update, 6:10PM EDT: The whole situation in Najaf appears to be circling the bowl very quickly.