They buried Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi in Najaf, Iraq, on Jan. 8. Although Ibrahimi was born far to the south in Basra province, Najaf was the chosen resting place for the reputed martyr. Najaf houses the Imam Ali mosque, an ancient and beautiful shrine in honor of Shiite Islam’s original martyr, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet Mohammed’s son-in-law. It attracts pilgrims from all over the Shiite world, many of whom in the future will no doubt be guided to Ibrahimi’s grave. The pilgrims will be reminded that American missiles killed the militia leader better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Al-Muhandis died in the early hours of Jan. 3 at Baghdad International Airport along with the man he had gone to greet, Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. His assassination, perhaps more than Soleimani’s, increased local hostility to the U.S. presence in Iraq even among those opposed to Iranian interference in their domestic affairs. Unlike Soleimani, al-Muhandis was Iraqi, albeit with close familial and professional ties to Iran, and a government official. To Iraqis, the killing of al-Muhandis is equivalent to taking out Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, director of the U.S. Army National Guard. The difference is that, while most Americans have never heard of Hokanson, every Iraqi knew about Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
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Main image: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (right) at the funeral of Qassem Soleimani’s father. As much as the death of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. missile strike inflamed passions in Iran, the killing of al-Muhandis in the same operation had similar effects in Iraq, where he was a widely known and respected militia leader. Photograph © Farsnews.com used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.