Iraq's Shiite clerics.

A cheat sheet for the news.
May 15 2003 4:44 PM

A Guide to Iraq's Shiite Clerics

(Continued from Page 1)

Abdel Majid al-Khoei was an influential cleric who lived in exile in London until the start of the war. With funds from the U.S. government, which saw him as the great moderate hope among Shiite clerics, al-Khoei returned to Najaf on April 3, ready to re-assert his power. Shortly thereafter, al-Khoei began squabbling with al-Sadr. When al-Khoei visited the holy Imam Ali shrine in Najaf on April 10, he was accompanied by the Baathist cleric who was the caretaker of the shrine. This act of reconciliation backfired, as al-Khoei's entourage was attacked by a mob claiming to support al-Sadr. Al-Khoei was killed, and his murder set off a chain reaction that led to the current icy stand-off between al-Sadr and al-Sistani. Al-Sadr claims the killers were not his supporters, but Newsweek reported that he was untroubled by al-Khoei's demise.

Mohammed al-Fartusi is a key al-Sadr loyalist now asserting power in Eastern Baghdad. The Hikmat Mosque imam was briefly detained by U.S. forces soon after they captured the capital for reasons that were not disclosed. Fartusi claims to control various al-Sadr sympathizers who run hospitals, neighborhoods, and important mosques throughout Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. The Los Angeles Times reported that while addressing a large, cheering crowd a few weeks ago, he said, "We prefer the law of heaven, the law of God, rather than the law of man."

Ed Finn is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English at Arizona State University.

Avi Zenilman is a former Slate intern.

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