The aftermath of the attack against Bahasht mosque, a Salafi mosque run by the controversial preacher Dr Abdul Latif in Sulaimani on June 16. 2017.
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – An explosion has been reported at Sulaimani's Bahasht mosque where Dr. Abdul Latif, a controversial Salafi preacher, was preaching. At least five people have been injured.
"A hand grenade was thrown into the courtyard of Bahasht mosque in Ibrahim Ahmed neighborhood at 9:10 pm, June 16, 2017. Three people were lightly injured in the attack. Asayesh forces arrived at the scene of the event and started their investigations. We will inform the public after we find a lead. We wish a quick recovery to the injured,” reads a statement from the Sulaimani Asayesh, security forces.
The hand grenade was thrown when Latif was leaving the mosque for his house located next to the mosque, Latif told Rudaw after he received treatment in his house for injuries he sustained from the attack, described as "light."
He soon returned to the mosque to say his Ramadan prayers with members of his congregation, in a defiant message.
The motive for the attack on the mosque is not known at this time.
Latif told Rudaw that it may have to do with his anti-ISIS stance.
"When you defend your people, the Peshmerga, and [make remarks] against terrorists, surely you will pay the price," Latif said, adding that he has been receiving threats from the ISIS group via its social media channels.
He seems to have been the target of the attack as the bomb was thrown at the Islamic preacher.
He said he heard a sound and then saw the grenade before it exploded.
"I do not have any personal problems myself, thanks to God," Latif told reporters from within the mosque after the attack, "But we always hear ISIS threats, and just yesterday I was talking about ISIS on one of the media outlets. I think this could be the reason."
He said he remains committed to his public stance that what ISIS is doing is not "Islam," but rather aimed at conveying a bad image of the religion.
He also said that about three years ago he asked security forces in Sulaimani to provide security for his mosque and an Islamic channel he owns, but the security forces have not done so.
He has a satellite channel called Amozhgari or Preaching that focuses on teaching the Salafi version of Sunni Islam.
The attacker was caught on camera, Latif said, as he explained that he was told that a car was parked nearby so that it could pick up the attacker.
An eyewitness told Rudaw that he and his friends wanted to catch the assailant, but because he was armed they could not.
“I followed him but I could not catch him,” a young man told Rudaw. “He had a pistol in his hand... and opened fire.”
The witness said that the attacker was wearing black clothes and appeared to be a young man.
Kurdistan's ministry of religious affairs described the incident as "sabotage attack" calling on the authorities to do their utmost to bring the assailant to justice.
Dr. Khalid, the brother of Latif and whose son was also slightly injured, told Rudaw that the preacher was among those injured in the attack. He said Latif was treated at home for shrapnel in his leg.
Health and security officials told Rudaw that five people were taken to hospital with light injuries.
Latif is a controversial and well-known Salafi figure in Kurdistan. In 2014, he condemned ISIS attacks on Christians and Yezidis and called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "an extremist man who has no fear of God."
He described ISIS as the product of "political Islam" and said that militants killed in battle are not martyrs.
He was arrested last year in connection with an alleged illegal marriage.
Rudaw understands the injured have already left the hospital except for one.
A health official told Rudaw that the remaining wounded man needs surgery, but added his injuries are not life threatening.
Latif said his prayers in the targeted mosque shortly after the attack, seen here in the middle wearing gray Kurdish. The footage shows his right leg bandaged.
Last updated at 02:02 am