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Islamabad's Red Mosque Sets Up Sharia Court

In Islamabad, the leader of Lal Masjlis (The Red Mosque) made good on his 7-day ultimatum to the Musharraf government and set up a sharia law court on Friday. Ten judges were selected and appointed to the Sharia court. The demonstration included the burning of thousands of DVD movies doused in gasoline.

Maulana Aziz addressed a crowd of about 3,000 outside Lal Majlis saying, "The government has been saying that an operation against us is the last option, I want to tell the government that suicide attacks are our last option." After asking the crowd if they were prepared to die, the angry response was "Yes! Yes! Allahu Akbar!"

Pakistani Minister of Information Tariq Azim warned, “They have misjudged the government’s resolve. We want to avoid the use of force against them. We want to resolve all issues through peaceful means.” He also accused Maulana Aziz of using female seminarians as a human shield.

Key indicators to watch for in the Pakistani tinderbox are whether local shop owners are dragged before the mosque's Sharia judges, if and how the Pakistani government cracks down on the Islamabad mosque, and whether the action of setting up Sharia courts is replicated elsewhere in Pakistan beyond the tribal areas.

Iraq Sunni Insurgent Group Hammers al-Qaeda

Said to be angry over al-Qaeda's indiscriminate killing of civilians, "especially rich ones," the Islamic Army of Iraq released a statement that hammered al-Qaeda in Iraq. The statement can be read as a warning of a split between the two.

Reuters reported that the IAI, "believed to be the largest group of former Baathists and military officers fighting Iraqi and U.S. forces, said it had dealt with al Qaeda militants with "patience and wisdom" to keep a united "resistance front. But this was not fruitful.""

The statement continued, "Killing Sunnis has become a legitimate target for them, especially rich ones. Either they pay them what they want or they kill them. They would kill any critic or whoever tries to show them their mistakes. Assaulting people's homes became permitted and calling people infidels also became popular."

The group demanded that bin Laden take more responsibility for al-Qaeda in Iraq and added, "We also call ... on every Qaeda member in the Land of Mesopotamia to review themselves and their positions ... and for those who committed wrongful acts to repent quickly."

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