Statement by the President
|Friday August 29, 2003
I strongly condemn the bombing today outside the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, Iraq, that killed dozens of innocent Iraqis. This vicious act of terrorism was aimed at Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, at one of Shi'a Islam's holiest sites, and at the hopes of the people of Iraq for freedom, peace, and reconciliation.
I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and my hopes for a quick recovery for the injured. I have instructed American officials in Iraq to work closely with Iraqi security officials and the Governing Council to determine who committed this terrible attack and bring them to justice. I also extend my sympathies to all Iraqis, and to Shi'a Muslims around the world.
Ayatollah Hakim had been jailed and tortured for his religious beliefs by the regime of Saddam Hussein, and he had spent many years in exile. He returned to his native land this year, after its liberation. His murder today, along with the murder of many innocent men and women gathered for prayer, demonstrates the cruelty and desperation of the enemies of the Iraqi people.
The forces of terror must and will be defeated. The united efforts of Iraqis and the international community will succeed in achieving peace and freedom.
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