Who bombed the golden-domed mosque in Samarra? I'm surprised at how little the media have asked this question. Maybe they believe it had to be either Zarqawi's group or Ba'athist insurgents so there's no mystery to unravel. Maybe so, but neither explanation convinces me as yet.
AFP yesterday had details of how the bombing operation was executed [Iraq shrine bombing was specialist job: minister].
BAGHDAD (AFP) - The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours.
"According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists," the minister told Iraqia state television.
(It's worth reading it all.) To me, that doesn't sound like Zarqawi's group. Their modus operandi is to use humans as guided bombs, whether on foot or in a vehicle. The Samarra bombers, by contrast, acted more like a well-disciplined military unit trained in sabotage and demolition. While that points more to Ba'athist ex-army members as culprits, I find it hard to believe that any Iraqi, let alone a group of up to a dozen, would premeditatively destroy such an icon of Iraqi history and national identity.
And then there's the Twelfth Imam angle. Below the mosque is the mausoleum containing the remains of the Tenth and Eleventh Imams, the grandfather and father of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth and final Imam. The Mahdi was hidden away by God whilst still a child, and will return at the endtimes to bring justice, peace and Islam to all the world, the Twelver Shi'as believe. Most Twelvers live in Iran. The world's most famous Twelver is Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He, and his fellow devotees, must have felt the bombing as a painful, personal blow. It's no wonder he and Ayatollah Khamenei reportedly believe the US/UK/Israel axis was responsible for the bombing.
I hate unnecessary conspiracy theories, especially if Israel is their subject. But given that I don't see the work of Jihadists or Ba'athists in the bombing, nor of Iranians or Sadrists, other possibilities are worth considering. I doubt the US or UK had any involvement - the bombing makes their situation worse. But the Israelis... They're not happy about Iran's growing influence in and over Iraq and its new government. They didn't like Ahmadinejad's comments about erasing the borders of the Zionist entity from the Middle East map, or re-locating the Zionist colonists back to Europe and America. And they've got a new PM, who needs to earn the respect of Mossad and the IDF's special forces. So I find it quite conceivable, damn it, that it was an Israeli operation. They'd know al-Zarqawi would get blamed, despite the absence of suicide bombers. They'd hope the attack would destabilize and delegitimize al-Jaafari's Iran-friendly government. And they could send a personal message to Ahmadinejad - continue to verbally attack us and we will destroy all that you hold most dear.
I'm not saying Israel did it, only that it's not implausible and there exist no obvious, other candidates.