Sunday, January 27, 2008

A researcher's remarks on Yamani and other Mahdist movements; Supreme Council allegations

Aswat al Iraq publishes a feature on Mahdist movements, including remarks by a researcher of Islamic affairs, Qadir al-Jabbar (not otherwise identified). There is an Arabic and an English version of this, but the English version leaves out several interesting passages, so here is the entirety of Jabbar's remarks.

Jabbar says the identity of Ahmed al-Hasan isn't well-understood, adding:
"There is a book and an audio-tape attributed to him, both of which show a naivete in his propositions that suggest that he could be a former, unsuccessful, student in one of the religious institutions of learning". The researcher continued: "The fact Yamani took the six--pointed star [star of David] as his symbol without worrying about any adverse reaction that this symbol could cause, given that it is the symbol of the Hebrew state, together with the material possibilities possessed by his movement along with all of the other Mahdist movements, induces the necessity of believing that these are "artificial" movements, to convey a group of concepts and destroy any chance of stability in southern Iraq".

Jabbar said what this group has in common with the other Mahdist groups is that they are built around small structural organizations, both on the leadership side and on the side of the followers, adding that the key people are mostly people that are obscure, socially, politically and in the religious sphere, close to the religious milieu but without having obtained degrees or any recognized level of learning. They are generally Shiite; they appear suddenly and they disappear suddenly; they use violence as their means of effecting change; they refuse to recognize any authorities, either political or religions, except those within the Mahdist movement; and their thought generally involves the rejection the current state of affairs root and branch.

The researcher Qadir Jabbar offered some examples of [other] such groups: "For instance we have the movement of Fadhil abdul Hussein al-Marsumi. His idea is that he is the Mohamed of our times. [He says] there is a new Mohamed in each age, and he urges people to give up studies of all kinds, including reading and the reliance on reading, to permit themselves to obtain knowledge by revelation. Marsumi's criticism is directed essentially against the Shiite [sect or religion] describing it as based on false beliefs, in spite of the fact that he himself, personally, bases himself on it. This is a point in common with the salafi Wahhabi sect, which some think he supports in his preaching." [If I may interject: I think the point here is that in common with the salafi Wahhabis, this man opposes the entire hierarchy of the mother-sect, but he himself--they themselves--adhere to the original principle. This would be true of a lot of fundamentalist movements, and it isn't clear what motivates this particular comparison with salafi Wahhabism].

Jabbar continued: There is another dangerous movement whose activities have been growing in recent months in Baghdad and other cities of the center of Iraq, namely the movement of Habiballah al-Mukhtar. Its leader preaches what he calls "the revolution of divine love", and its position can be summarized this way: After the failure of all of the sects and all of the religions, we have undertaken this correcting revolution which leads to God directly. And that implies the attempt to blow up all of the sects and religions, and this is something that relates this movement, in a distant way, to the Masonic movement. [Again, the rejection of intermediaries is something common to a lot of fundamentalist movements, and it isn't clear what motivates the researcher in this particular case to refer to blowing up the religions or what his point is about the masonic movement].
And Jabbar concluded by saying there is no question of these Mahdists being stamped out in the foreseeable future; rather, they can be expected to grow in numbers and activities.

The above is the whole of the remarks by the researcher Qadir Jabbar in the Arabic-language item published by Aswat al-Iraq. In their English-language version, the paragraph about Marsumi is left out, and also the remark in the last paragraph about supposed similarity with the Masonic movement. Those deletions could be on account of the obscurity of what he is talking about. But the English-language version also left out the researcher's remarks about the possibility of these movements being "artificial" and fostered with a destabilizing purpose. Maybe they thought it was too speculative for English-language readers, or maybe it was just an oversight.

The piece also includes remarks by a researcher at something called Institute of Arab Gulf Studies, who didn't want to be named even though his institute is named. Here too the English language version leaves out part of the Arabic version, but in this case I think they were unquestionably right to do so.

For what it is worth, the Supreme Council news-site has published a story that purports not only to identify Ahmed al-Hasan al-Yamani, but to trace his career through religious studies in Najaf pre-2003 when he was allegedly sponsored by Saddam's mukhabarat, then following the fall of that regime he was sponsored by a number of Gulf-state intelligence agencies led by that of the UAE. And this includes details of the alleged revolutionary plot which included a complex series of planned operations in Basra, Nasiriya and Karbala, all thwarted by alert police action. He is a Dajjal, or anti-Mahdi (to coin a word based on "anti-Christ"), and the story is based on the idea that there have been and will continue to be a number of these repeatedly, noting that the similar plot that was broken up last year was of a different group and a different Dajjal.

Government spokesmen have referred in news reports in vague terms to the Yamani group responding to a "foreign agenda", but these above-mentioned specific allegations haven't been taken up by any other news media (other than Burathanews), and the experts cited in the above Voices of Iraq story don't mention it either, possibly because their isn't any actual evidence for it. It could be that the Supreme Council needed a story to reassure their own people that this was taken care of, for this year at least, even a story that might not bear a lot of scrutiny.

While we're on the subject, it should also be noted that website of the Adherents of the Mahdi (Yamani's group),, is dead, not surprisingly considering so many of its members are also dead. Their position was that the group has been systematically harassed by the agents of the Supreme Council and the GreenZone government (see a summary in English of one of their statements at There are a couple of very similar statements that were copied here before the Mahdyoon site went down. In this version, the Adherents of the Mahdi complain that members who were detained and tortured by the government were then "turned over to the criminal forces of the occupation, to be tortured according to the modern, Western methods!!" (Second statement at the last-mentioned location, first paragraph).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Jan. 21 Azzaman posted a news item titled 'Security worsens in three southern province.’ It is about attacks on Green Zone "security services" in Basra, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniyah.

Of the attackers, the item says. "While the Interior Ministry says they are remnants of the so-called Jund al-Sama (Soldiers of Heaven) other sources close to the government say they are former Baathists and supporters of the former leader Saddam Hussein."

The item is posted at\2008-01-21\kurd.htm

2:28 PM  

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