December 27th, 2004


Attempted decapitation strike in Iraq?

A carbomber blew himself up outside the Baghdad home of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, killing nine people and wounding 39.

Hakim, Iraq's most popular politician according to a recent poll, is also the head of SCIRI, a large Shi'i paramilitary force similar in nature to Morqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army, but less radical in nature.

Speculation is that the attack was caused by Baathists, but some of Sadr's supporters would be just as happy to see Hakim die too. On August 29, 2003, a huge car bomb in Najaf killed al-Hakim's older brother, who had headed SCIRI since 1984. The perpetrators of the attack were never identified at the time. One can only assume that this attempted assasination will backfire on the perpetrators, and that Hakim's popularity will soar as a result. This could be troublesome for the U.S. presence in Iraq in the longterm -- Hakim claims to want a secular Iraq, but not all of his words match his rhetoric.

"(The U.S. occupation) is primarily responsible for (the death of my brother) and the blood that is shed all over Iraq every day. Iraq must not remain occupied and the occupation must leave so that we can build Iraq as God wants us to do."
- Abdel Aziz Hakim

Earthquake update.

My journal is getting a disproportionate amount of lovin' from BoingBoing today because they linked to this page which includes a list of the best first hand accounts of the recent earthquake / tsunami.

The death toll keeps getting bigger -- the most recent article I've seen puts it at 77,000.

Probably the most compelling images I have seen so far have been these pictures of the tsunami coming ashore taken from a resort at Phuket. View them sequentially and you can really get a feel for how fast and high the tsunami was, and how much damage it did to anyone and anything near the shore.

The final outcome speaks for itself. Here's a small list of organizations accepting donations to help the victims.