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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Brides for Jihad

Militants force local women to wed foreign fighters
By Aqeel Hussein in Mosul
(Filed: 10/10/2004)

A "brides for jihad" campaign has been launched by Islamic militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, intimidating local families into offering their daughters to foreign fighters waging war on America and its allies.

A fundamentalist group, the Islamic Council of Mosul, has written letters to residents in western parts of the city, which is near the Syrian border, demanding that the name of every girl is put on a list. The register is held at the Al-Mahmood mosque whose imam, Zinad al-Jaburi, boasts that he has married off three of his daughters to Syrian terrorists.

"These people are heroes they have come to Iraq and want to make their new home here," he said. "Marrying local women ties them to us and our families."

According to local residents, Mr al-Jaburi has threatened his followers with death if they do not respond to the letters distributed at his mosque, which place a religious obligation on recipients. "Join your daughters to our Syrian brothers who have come to help Iraq," they read. "Allah says you must marry your daughters to good men.

"We ask each honest father that lives in Mosul city to support the project in order to be a real Muslim and achieve the glory of the holy Koran."

The first Syrian man to be married at the mosque was killed soon after during an ambush on American troops.

Shihab Rifaie, who was purportedly in Mosul dealing in imported second hand cars, married an 18-year-old called Sara whose father had put her name on the mosque list.

Her family refused to talk about their late son-in-law but a neighbour, Yunis Lilou, said: "I am too astonished for words that these people would make their daughters marry a suicide terrorist. We must control the situation and destroy this movement."

Local police say they are aware of the forced marriages but are unable to tackle the problem because of the culture of fear perpetuated by the foreign jihadists.

Families have been torn apart over the marriages, with fatal consequences. At the end of last month, a 24-year-old local man, Ayad Mazher, killed a young Syrian fighter who had won the agreement of his father to marry his sister, Sarhan.