You heard it here first...well, maybe second, because my observations
were sparked by some excellent commentary on Juan Cole's Informed Comment.
The demolition of the Askariyah Dome in Samarra was a professional job
(from Agence France Presse):
The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours.
"According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists," the minister told Iraqia state television.
Jaafar, who toured the devastated thousand-year-old shrine on Thursday a day after the bombing which brought down its golden dome, said "holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives."
"Then the charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance," the minister added.
To drill into the pillars would have taken at least four hours per pillar, he also estimated.
He's wrong on the latter. I would guess a skilled team could be in and out in two hours. But it would mean they had very nice equipment. See for example:
a quarrier's description
While Elberton does not specify the drill size, you can get some very nice and moderately portable drills at Atlascopco. 25 kW is a lot of power, but there are chemical alternatives that have the virtue of being nice and quiet.
In the thread below, an anonymous commenter asks the very good question of why I think the CIA (considering what Chairman Goss has done to the Agency, more likely Special Forces, but not to cut the pie before it's even half-baked) must be considered a suspect. The reason is that, as Robert Fisk so brilliantly captured it, "Chaos is
the plan [for Iraq]."
That's correct: one of the most knowledgeable observers says that Bush's definition of success in Iraq is a monstrous civil war. If he can suck the entire Arab world into a debilitating sectarian war, the US will be the last man standing.
Of course, that's also Al Qaida's plan.
And some Sunnis probably wouldn't be averse.
It's hard to know who got to Askariyah first.
There are numerous new attacks on Shiite shrines.
These latest copycat attacks are more likely Sunnis. Notice the very different MO: frontal assault with lots of dead vs. SF tactics.