Source: Los Angeles Times
On August 12, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported, "With its twin minarets and glinting gold dome, the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf has been a beacon for the Muslim faithful for more than a thousand years. But with fighting raging around the Iraqi shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam is reprising a different historical role: rallying point against foreign forces... All eyes are... trained on the shrine, where a final showdown between [cleric] Muqtada Sadr's militia and American troops may yet take place... With U.S. military officials saying they have received permission from Najaf's governor to strike the mosque if necessary, religious and political leaders from Iran to Los Angeles are voicing grave warnings that an American assault on the shrine could be catastrophic to the U.S. image in Iraq and the Muslim world. 'The United States is slaughtering the people of one of the holiest Islamic cities, and the Muslim world and the Iraqi nation will not stand by,' Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of neighboring Iran, said in an address on Iranian state television. Three major American Muslim organizations also issued statements Wednesday calling for negotiations to end the conflict... Shiites 'worldwide are shocked and outraged over what is going on in Najaf,' said Imam Moustafa Al-Qazwini, a prominent Shiite leader in Southern California. 'They consider it an assault on the sanctity of Islam and in particular Shia Islam. Any attack on that city will destroy America's future in Iraq completely. It will completely discredit America and make it the new tyrant in the eyes of Shias worldwide.'"