Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Sebastian Mallaby Edition)
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (New York Times Book Review Edition)

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Najaf Edition)

Healing Iraq writes:

Healing Iraq: The official U.S. and Iraqi story about what happened in Najaf today, which was swallowed and propagated by news wires (and apparently also the New York Times), is complete nonsense.

First of all, they can't even decide whether they were fighting Sunni insurgents or a"violent Shi%u2019ite cult."... [T]he U.S. and Iraqi descriptions don't match... contain gross inconsistencies:

Najaf's governor, As'ad Abu Gilel, who is a member of the pro-Iranian SCIRI, said they were Sunni insurgents, including Pakistani and Afghan fighters, plotting to stage an attack against Shia pilgrims commemorating the holy month of Muharram in Najaf, and to possibly attack the Shi'ite clerical leadership that is based in the old city, around the shrine of Imam Ali.

Then he turned around and said they were local [Shia] loyalists to ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, probably referring to the Sh'ite tribe of Bani Hassan around Kufa, which facilitated the assault by Saddam's Republican Guard against rebels in the 1991 Intifada. (The Bani Hassan tribe is despised by major Shi'ite political parties, and residents of Najaf scornfully refer to their town of Al-Abbasiya, across the Euphrates from Kufa, as Al-Ouja, which is the hometown of Saddam Hussein near Tikrit. Many members of Bani Hassan also supported Sadrists in their 2004 uprising.)

A U.S. military source confirmed that 250 "insurgents" were killed and several other militants were captured, including a Sudanese. An Iraqi security source, however, as well as the local Iraqi media, identified the militants as members of a Shi'ite splinter group called Al-Mahdiyoun or Ansar Al-Imam Al-Mahdi, which if true means the U.S. military was once again duped into doing the dirty work of SCIRI and other Shi%u2019ite factions -- and, I daresay, Iran....

The Mahdiyoun, or Mahdawiya, as they are called in Iraq, are a very small fringe Shia movement.... Their leader is Sayyid Ahmed Al-Hassan... who declared himself the promised Al-Yemani, who according to Shi'ite lore is the vanguard of the twelfth Imam Al-Mahdi...