SHAFAQNA – Rasoul Al-Musawi, 47, a Shiite Muslim community leader in Sydney, Australia, was shot Monday in a drive-by attack believed to have been committed by Islamic State (ISIS) supporters.
Al-Musawi was closing up the Husainiyah Nabi Akram center, on Rosedale Avenue in Greenacre, south-east of Sydney, when he was shot in the face and the shoulder. His wife and four of his children were also present at the time.
Al-Musawi’s daughter said her father was shot from behind as they were leaving the Islamic prayer center.
“We heard two loud bangs. My dad just held his neck and ran inside,” she told Australia’s Network Ten. “All I could see was blood running down his head and neck.”
One friend – a fellow Shiite Muslim who declined to be identified – said the shooting in Greenacre was motivated by the sectarian struggle in the Middle East.
Islamic State terrorists see Shiite Muslims as heretics, and animosity between Sunni and Shiite communities in the Middle Easy has grown with the Syrian civil war and ongoing unrest in Iraq – both countries where Shiite-dominated or aligned governments are facing Sunni-dominated rebellions.
The friend suggested that Al-Musawi had been targeted because of his Shiite identity by Sunni ISIS supporters who “called us ‘Shia dogs’ and they threatened to come back down tonight and kill you, shoot you, whatever,’ he told ABC Radio on Monday.
The friend added that he had not paid attention to the threats made on the night of the shooting – which also included “IS lives forever” – until he received a phone call saying his friend had been shot.
“Al-Musawi was walking his family home so he can come back and do the cleaning [at the Islamic Centre] and they shot him in front of his family,” he said. “His wife, she just fainted.”
Well-known member of the Australian Shiite community, Jamal Daoud told the Sydney Morning Herald that Monday’s attack was not the first time Shiite worshippers had been intentionally targeted in recent days.
On Friday evening, a security officer at the prayer center was attacked by three men who hit him in the face, Daoud said.
Daoud added that the “extremists” were deliberately trying to threaten the Shiite community and the people he had talked to were “very concerned” and “very scared.”
“This is very dangerous. It’s a warning something bigger could happen.”
Police are investigating the shooting and searching for witnesses and suspects, but have not yet conclusively attached motive to the case.
“At this point in time it does not appear that there is any type of motivation for the shooting,” Inspector Dave Firth said, “We are following several lines of inquiry.”
Meanwhile, Al-Musawi is in a stable condition after undergoing surgery, and police have described his wounds as “not life threatening.”
However, a police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia that the hospital where the victim is being treated will not be disclosed. “As a precautionary measure, we’re not giving that out,” she said.
A growing number of radicalized Australian Muslims have joined ISIS over the past few years, and authorities are viewing rising Islamist sentiments with great concern – particularly following a recent terrorist plot by ISIS sympathizers which involved publicly beheading a random non-Muslim.