Ambush of U.S. Islamic Leader in Iraq Shocks Dearborn Muslims

June 20, 2006

Source: The Detroit News

On June 20, 2006 The Detroit News reported, "The phones at the Islamic Center of America have not stopped ringing since evening prayers on Friday, following an assassination attempt in Karbala, Iraq, on an influential clergyman in American Islam. Earlier in the day, gunmen on motorcycles ambushed Ayatollah Sayed Mortadha al-Qazwini, founder of three mosques in California and father of Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini, the clergyman at the mosque on Ford Road, which is believed to be the largest mosque in the United States. 'He is fine, now, thank God,' the imam said. 'My brothers and I were not too happy about our father returning to Iraq after Saddam fell. But he told us: "I have lived my life. I need to go serve my people."' The elder al-Qazwini, 75, fled Iraq in the 1970s after Saddam Hussein sentenced the Shi'a leader to death. In 32 years of ministry in the United States, he established two mosques in Los Angeles and one in San Diego. As the elder al-Qazwini walked home from his mosque in Karbala, gunmen shot him in his left arm and right thigh. Doctors removed the bullets, and he is recuperating at home, the younger al-Qazwini said. The concern at the Islamic Center of America was palpable over the weekend. The elder al-Qazwini visited three years ago, a major occasion for many local Muslims. More than 1,000 turned out to hear him speak. 'It's a shock,' said Rana Abbas-Chami, whose grandfather, Imam Mohamad Jawad Chirri, founded the Islamic Center of America in the 1940s in Detroit. 'It kind of opens your eyes to really how unfortunate the whole situation is, there in Iraq.'"