IRAQ HANDS DEATH PENALTY TO 28 CULTISTS FOR ATTACKS
February 26, 2009: Twenty-eight members of a Shiite messianic cult responsible for brutal attacks on Shiite pilgrims in Iraq were sentenced to death, said an official from the federal court in Dhi Qar Province.
The condemned were members of the Followers of the Mahdi, itself a part of the Soldiers of Heaven, a fringe cult that believes that sowing chaos will pave the way for the coming of the Mahdi, the 12th Imam, who disappeared in the ninth century, and who Shiites believe will return as a savior of humanity.
Nineteen other members of the group were sentenced to life imprisonment, and six were acquitted, said the court official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. (Sources: New York Times, 26/02/2009)