Religious pilgrims to Babylon attacked. Is Iraqi religious civil war coming?
The New York Times last week reported on a memo attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Jordanian, allegedly a high-level Al Qaeda operative, said he was having trouble launching a religious civil war in Iraq.

"It has been extremely difficult to lodge and keep safe a number of brothers, and also train new recruits," he complained. "There is no doubt that our field of movement is shrinking and the grip around the throat of the mujahidin has begun to tighten. With the spread of the army and police, our future is becoming frightening."

Still, Zarqawi said, plans continued for attacks against four groups: Americans, Kurds, Iraqi law enforcement officers, and the Shi'a. The last of these, he said, are "the key to change":

Targeting and striking their religious, political, and military symbols, will make them show their rage against the Sunnis and bear their inner vengeance. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of these Sabeans [i.e., the Shi'a]. … The solution, and God only knows, is that we need to bring the Shi'a into the battle because it is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us.

The Zarqawi memo is undated, and it appears now—at least to some—that his outlook was too "bleak."

"The fault lines are emerging for a possible civil war," the Associated Press reports today. The news service outlines the warning signs:

Sunni politicians speak angrily of U.S. bias toward their Shiite rivals. Kurds are more outspoken in demanding self rule — if not independence. And someone — perhaps al-Qaida, perhaps Saddam Hussein loyalists ...
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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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