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Iraqi Shiite leader killed in attack at Ali mosque

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NAJAF, Iraq (CNN) -- A prominent Iraqi Shiite Muslim leader was assassinated Thursday in an attack that began inside the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, a family friend told CNN.

Islamic cleric Sayed Abdul Majid al-Khoei was the son of the Grand Ayatollah Abu al Qasim al-Khoei, a popular Shiite leader executed under Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's rule, said Saad Sayeh Faydh, a family friend.

Al-Khoei was shot inside the mosque, which Shiites venerate as the burial site of the prophet Muhammad's son-in-law, then dragged outside and stabbed to death, Faydh said.

Faydh was injured in the same attack.

Al-Khoei was trying to re-establish himself in the Shiite community after living in Britain for several years, Time magazine reporter Jim Lacey told CNN. He was expected to urge Iraq's Shiite population to cooperate with the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, Lacey said.

Lacey said al-Khoei had his own security force and was not under the protection of the U.S. Army.

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