Pro-Iranian Iraqi cleric Qais al-Khazali
Pro-Iranian Iraqi cleric Qais al-KhazaliREUTERS

A prominent pro-Iranian Shi’ite Muslim cleric in Iraq came under fire last week, after he accused Israel of orchestrating the assassination of the first Imam in Shi’ite Islam – more than 1,300 years ago.

During a recorded lecture last Wednesday, Qais al-Khazali repeatedly blamed “the Jews” for the killings of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the Fourth Caliph of Islam and the first Imam in Shi’ite Islam, and Ali’s son, Hassan.

Ali was murdered in the year 661 CE by a fellow Muslim working on behalf of a political rival. His son, Hassan, the second imam of Shi’ite Islam, was assassinated by poisoning nine years later.

The deaths of Ali and Hassan cemented the schism within Islam which resulted in the present day split between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam, with Shi’ites revering Ali and his son as the legitimate successors to Muhammad.

While the deaths of Ali and Hassan have been traditionally ascribed to rival Muslim factions, al-Khazali argued last week that “the Jews” – including Israel’s Mossad agency – were in fact responsible, first for Ali’s death, and then for the deaths of both Hassan and his brother Hussein.

"The Jews! The Jews! The Jews! They assassinated Hassan, the son of Ali, and they did this by using a woman,” al-Khazali said, claiming the Mossad had used a prostitute for the assassination.

“The Umayyads were mere collaborators with the Jews. Then they assassinated Imam Hussein. It was the same perpetrators, only they used different people.”

"Qatam was a prostitute. What had been the modus operandi of the Israeli-Jewish intelligence agency? What do we know about them? How do they get their sources? It is either through money or through women. Right? In this case, it was a woman. There is no doubt that she worked for the Israeli Mossad back then, and through her, they recruited [Imam Ali's killer].”

The video drew criticism and mockery from Arabic-speaking social media users, who noted that the Mossad did not exist in the 7th century.