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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06HILLAH58 2006-04-07 18:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL REO Hillah
Cable title:  

NAJAF QUIET, BUT ANTI-CF RUMORS FLY; BABIL QUIET DESPITE

Tags:   PGOV KIBL IZ 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: REO Al-Hillah media contacts reported that
while Najaf city was calm and under tight police and army
control, Mahdi Army members were seen massing in the cemetery
area. The city is abuzz with rumors, and several contacts
reported that much of the chatter blames the attacks on the
Americans, either directly or by CF "negligence." Babil was
quiet throughout the day, despite a report early Friday that
suggested Mahdi militia elements would take over Iraqi police
checkpoints and perhaps attack CF facilities in the area
(including REO Al-Hillah). This evening, Babil remains quiet
with no sign of militia movement. END SUMMARY



2. (C) In conjunction with disseminating our message of
condolence for the April 7th car bomb attack near the sacred
Iman Ali Shrine in Najaf, REO staff talked with multiple
contacts in Najaf. All reported that the police and army had
the city under tight control. However, an Iraqi border guard
officer (protect) stated that in the late afternoon, Mahdi Army
members began congregating in Najaf's cemetery. A correspondent
for a Babil radio station, resident in Najaf, told REO staff
that while the city remained closed to vehicular traffic,
pedestrians were able to walk about. Contacts stated that
there were widespread rumors suggesting US involvement or
complicity in the attack. Some rumors noted that the Americans
drive SUVs similar to the one used in the attack. Another rumor
reported to REO Al-Hillah pointed to CF air patrols over Najaf
as evidence of CF complicity. Comment: CF helicopters were in
the area monitoring pro-Ja'fari demonstrations. End Comment.
Two contacts reported that Najaf Deputy Governor Abdul Hussein
Bakr Hassan received a hostile reception from crowds at VBIED
site with onlookers blaming both Hassan and the Americans for
failure to prevent the attack .



3. (C) Separately, REO Babil received a threat warning of
impending attack early on Friday, April 7. Although REO
Al-Hillah went to Condition Yellow for several hours, local
contacts reported that the streets remained quiet after Friday
prayers and there were no signs of militia elements moving
within the city, occupying IP checkpoints, or staging for an
attack against CF facilities, including REO Al-Hillah.

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