Someone has been assassinating past and current aides to the current Iraqi Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
A former aide to Iraq's top Shiite cleric was killed Thursday in a drive-by shooting in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad, security officials said.Only 40 meters - that's awfully close to the Njaf Shrine where al-Sadr's militia function as a security force.
Kazim Jabir al-Bidairi was shot dead by two gunmen in a car as he drove in the Wafa area of northern Najaf at 11:30 a.m., according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Al-Bidairi, who was in his 40s, was alone in the car.
The officials had no immediate word on the possible motive of the assailants, but al-Bidairi was the third person linked to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to be killed in two months.
Sheik Abdullah Falak al-Basrawi, who ran an office that collected a Shiite religious tax paid to al-Sistani and used to run his seminaries and charities, was stabbed to death last weekend at his office, only 30 to 40 meters (yards) away from where al-Sistani lives and works.
One of the people with most to gain from these deaths, it has to be said, is firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. His father and his father-in-law were both grand Ayatollah's of Iraq's Shiite population and if the firebrand cleric were to become Grand Ayatollah too then he would have a very imposing position - religious leader, political leader and commander of one of the largest militias.