Tikrit Muslim Cleric Hate
US raid sparks outrage among Iraqi Sunnis
Sat Jun 24, 2006
TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces hunting al Qaeda insurgents raided the home of a senior Sunni Arab religious leader in Iraq on Saturday, seizing him and four suspected terrorists, the U.S. military said.
The arrest of Sheikh Jamal Abdel Karim al-Dabaan sparked outrage among Iraq's Sunnis. The Iraqi Islamic Party, whose leader is one of the country's vice-presidents, condemned it and many government officials in predominantly Sunni Salahaddin province suspended work in protest, the deputy governor said.
The U.S. military said it had been acting on intelligence gathered following the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in a U.S. air strike on June 7.
Dabaan is a top mufti, or religious authority, for most of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim community, which was dominant under Saddam Hussein and now forms the backbone of the insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government.
His arrest came the day before Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is expected to present a national reconciliation plan to end sectarian tensions and defuse a Sunni insurgency.
An Iraqi security source at the joint Iraqi-U.S. coordination center in Tikrit 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad said Dabaan had been arrested along with two sons.
The Iraqi Islamic Party said another religious leader who had been a guest in Dabaan's home, Sheikh Abdalilah al-Hiti, was also arrested.
The U.S. military said it had not known beforehand that it was Dabaan's home and they had since released him. They made no mention of his sons or Hiti.
The deputy governor of Salahaddin said earlier that most provincial government offices had suspended work in protest at the arrest of Dabaan and were refusing to return to work until he was freed.
The U.S. military said one of the suspects detained was "directly associated with several senior-level al Qaeda members and reportedly plays an important role in the network between Baquba and Tikrit".
It said troops had come under pistol fire from two suspects when they arrived at the sheikh's house, who were quickly overpowered and detained.
Five AK-47s assault rifles, 13 loaded magazines and two pistols had been recovered and destroyed on site.
Tikrit is the hometown of Saddam, who is on trial for crimes against humanity.
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