Black Shadow over Iraq

“The great host and sect of the crusaders, will be massed in Mesopotamia [Iraq]…(3 Q61) Between the two rivers he will fear the military hand.
The Black One will make him repent of it.” – (6 Q33) Michel de Nostradamus (1555-56)

An interpreter of prophecy and a forensic scientist share many things in common. Sometimes they both spend decades tracking down clues derived from sparse evidence to solve a mystery by trial and error. The forensic scientist may eventually solve a crime, while a prophecy interpreter may at last grasp a seer’s intended vision of tomorrow. Today I wish to review for you a prescient forensic search that has spanned the past eighteen years-and-counting. It concerns the right interpretation to a famous prophecy about “Alus sanguinaire” (bloody Alus) and the “black one” in Century (Volume) 6, Quatrain 33 of “Les Propheties” by Michel de Nostradamus. If we can unlock this 16th-century French visionary’s enigmatic clues we just might see what is coming next in America’s occupation of Iraq. Since writing my first book “Nostradamus and the Millennium” in 1986, my intuition has guided me along a prescient theory that a black robed Ayatollah of the Shiite sect of Islam is the catalyst to the violent spread of Islamic extremism across the Middle East. Then as now, I believe Century 6, Quatrain 33 (below) points to Iran and the fundamentalist Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini as the source:

Sa main derniere par Alus sanguinaire
Ne se pourra par la mer guarentir:
Entre deux fleuues craindre main militaire,
Le noir l’ireux le fera repentir.

His hand [that is, his power] finally through bloody Alus,
He will be unable to protect himself by sea.
Between two rivers he will fear the military hand,
The black one will make the angry one repent of it.

Back in 1986, Iranian armies under Khomeini’s command launched their largest human-wave offensive against entrenched Iraqi troops in the Iran-Iraq Gulf War (1980-1988). This is what I concluded about it then. Please note that I inserted the bracketed comments from today:

“Nostradamus called this contender for the third anti-christ ‘the black and angry one.’ This implication of blackness may relate both to Khomeini’s form of dress and his well-known dark character.

“Further, in the quatrains about ‘the black and angry one’ Nostradamus speaks of the one who is the inspiration for an attack across Iraq all the way to Egypt with a force of one million men, the date being set astrologically for August 1987.* During 1986, Iran boasted close to one million men at the front fighting Iraq.”

[“Nostradamus and the Millennium” (1987 edition), p.128].

*[NOTE: the prophecy displayed by the side of the text relating to C6 Q33 is C5 Q25, reads: “The Arab Prince…Inclined towards Persia [Iran], Very nearly one million men will invade Byzantium (Turkey) and Egypt.” The astrological aspect is “Mars, the Sun, Venus (in) Leo.” The next time the sun and these planets were in was August 2000. It will happen again August 2019, and August 2032.]

My 1986 interpretation aside, what actually happened?

Ayatollah Khomeini’s massed infantry offensive on the approaches of Basra and across Faw Peninsula ground down in bloody ruin in the following year. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship survived. The war ended in 1988, and when Khomeini died shortly after, it appeared that the trail to identifying the “black one” as Khomeini hit reality’s brick wall.

The path to understand this prophecy was waylaid by controversy during the Gulf War of 1991. My publisher at the time (Labyrinth Press) announced their desire to rush a reprint of “Nostradamus and the Millennium.” They went ahead and made an unauthorized cut of my passage about Ayatollah Khomeini. This led to a decade-long quack attack from James Randi accusing me of dropping the segment on Khomeini because I didn’t want to publicize a failure. Recently, the Las Vegas magic act, Pen and Teller, dug up Mr. Randi’s accusation for Showtime Channel’s new skeptical inquiry show, crudely entitled “Bullshit.”

If I may, I would like to set the record straight about the missing Khomeini entry.

I found a new publisher, Element Books, after the legally binding terms of Labyrinth’s contract had ended. Element reinserted my updated Ayatollah Khomeini comments. I might add that these are the same comments I had planned to insert in the 1991 Labyrinth edition. They appear in my authorized second edition of “Nostradamus and the Millennium” under the new title, “Nostradamus: The New Revelations” (Element Books, 1994). You can find my Khomeini commentary on page 184 of that and all future reprints. The most recent, and third, edition came out in 2001 under the new title Nostradamus: The New Millennium. This book updates my interpretations as seen in the new light of events after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on America.

I want to make it clear that an explanation for my mistaken Khomeini interpretation has been published and readily available for over ten years. I can only conclude that professional slight-of-hand-and-intellect artists like James Randi, Pen and Teller base their “scientific” and “skeptical” conclusions on lazy research and idle skimming through one botched 1991 reprint of my first book. That makes the data for their accusation more than 13 years out of date.

Here are pertinent excerpts coming from my explanation, published in 1994. I have inserted statements in brackets from today:


“In the summer of 1986, I warned incorrectly that Saddam Hussein might face military defeat in the following year [of the Iran-Iraq War]. I suggested this possibility in the light of the dating in Quatrain 25, Century 5 of the final Iranian offensive of almost one million men set to overrun Mesopotamia and defeat the ‘Arab Prince’ (Saddam Hussein) in August of 1987…Looking back at this interpretation, it can be argued in my defense that August of 1987 did prove to be a significant turning-point in the war; it was not, however, in Iran’s favor…American covert military actions between August 1987 through July of the following year had the effect of turning the tide o f the war in favor of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

“Although the Iranians had unleashed their, initially successful, final offensive of nearly a million men in the previous year (February 1986), and had seized the Faw peninsula and fought their way to the approaches to the city of Basra by April 1987, my interpretation that they would overrun the Arab world all the way to the borders of Turkey and Egypt was a classic example of a prophet scholar’s weakness for hyperbolic exaggeration.

“At least for the present time.

“With an increase of arms and intelligence support provided by the United States, Saddam Hussein was able to push the Iranians out of the Faw peninsula the following year…Ayatollah Khomeini died in 1988, to be replaced not by another ‘black and angry’ Shiite mullah, but by the more moderate Rafsanjani who was to steer Iran away form confrontations…Iraq is poised to break up any time around the mid-90s. By that time Iran will have quietly amassed an armed force to match that of Saddam Hussein’s prior to Operation Desert Storm and may yet fill the political void by uniting with Shiite Iraqi Arabs to form a new Pan-Shiite state. Although there are now increased numbers of Ayatollahs supporting more radical Shiite fundamentalism, Rafsanjani’s re-election keeps them somewhat at bay till the mid-90s.

“If the Third Gulf War should take place at that time, Iran’s priests of the Jihad will show the world that they have learned lessons from Saddam Hussein’s blunders: Do not take the border dispute bait before you have achieved the means to arm your regional ballistic missiles, your superguns, and your bombers with nuclear weapons.

“In a third and final Gulf War, waged during a time of dreadful astrological aspects, a ‘black and angry’ Ayatollah could sweep across the Middle East with the sound of jet engines and nuclear-tipped missiles to do battle with Israel and the forces of the West led by the United States. “

[“Nostradamus: The New Revelations” (1994), p 184;
Nostradamus: The New Millennium, p. 184.]


It would appear my predicted date for the fall of Saddam and breakup of Iraq in the mid-1990s was a bit hasty. Saddam fell in 2003A breakup of Iraq could still happen –my bad dating forecasts aside. It is believed by US intelligence that Iran is moving quickly to create and arm itself with nuclear weapons for a future war. The Iranian government denies this. The apocalyptic spread of militant Islam across the Middle East from Iran to Iraq, then to Egypt and Turkey may be a destiny taking its time. My 1986 interpretation that Ayatollah Khomeini will physically lead a militant Islamic revolution westward across the Middle East from Iran was a dead end, but a revolution lead by the myth of Khomeini is still quite alive. Go to southern Iraq and walk through the Shia towns and cities. You will see Khomeini’s grim face, bracketed by his distinctive black turban and robes, posted everywhere. He remains a patron saint and a rallying symbol for a future militant rebellion of Islam. Is he, or an Ayatollah heir to his revolution invoking his name, the “black one” or Nostradamus’ “bloody Alus”?

I returned to my investigation of Century 6, Quatrain 33 in 1997. It appears in the first complete translation of all of Nostradamus major prophecies since the Leoni edition in 1962. Here is the prophecy again:

His power finally through bloody Alus,
He will be unable to protect himself by sea.
Between two rivers he will fear the military hand,
The black one will make the angry one repent of it.

“The quatrain implies that Saddam Hussein (‘the angry one’) is the man who is ‘unable to protect himself by sea’ (his defenses proved useless against sea-launched cruise missiles both during and after the Gulf War of 1991). Saddam, the Mesopotamian leader ‘between two rivers’ (the Tigris and Euphrates) who fears the ‘military hand’ of the West, may also need to fear the hand or power of bloody ‘Alus,’ the ‘black one,’ who is someone other than Abu Nidal. He could be a future black-robed Ayatollah from Iran.”

Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies p. 459.]

Six years later, my interpretation of 6 Q33 evolved again in the aftermath of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. I wrote the following segment in a HogueProphecy Bulletin for 1 August 2003:

“Saddam’s sons have been killed. He will follow them shortly. What transpires in the months or a year ahead is a new insurrection fomented by a black robed and angry Iraqi Shiite Ayatollah. Whether his anger or US imperialist interests in Iraq are justified only history will tell. Prophecy tells us that a new guerrilla war is coming. It may not be solely a war waged by those between the two rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates in the ‘Sunni’ Muslim ‘Triangle.’ The vast majority of Iraqi’s of the Shiite faith will, for better or worse, choose to establish their own political destiny without edicts from Viceroys of an American occupation. The Shiites may push aside the Americans if they do not step aside.”

[HogueProphecy Bulletin, 1 August 2003:
Who is Nostradamus’ Third Antichrist?
A Post-Iraqi Invasion Update

Unfortunately, my prediction about a Shiite rebellion against American occupation starting in 2004 was correct. At the end of March, American coalition forces banned a newspaper published by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a sect of young and radical Shiites. He launched an uprising in a half dozen cities with up to 10,000 militia from his own al-Mahdi private army, assisted by Sunni guerrillas. So far (22 April) the fighting has killed 102 US troops and over 1,000 Iraqi civilians and fighters in bloody urban street fighting primarily in Fallujah, al-Kut and along streets in the Shia slums around Baghdad. US wounded are in the several hundreds .

[UPDATE 5 May: The US military death toll for April reached 138 dead, 879 wounded, of which 560 were serious wounds.]

The Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini never set foot again in Najaf, the holiest city of the Shiites but a black robed Iranian cleric has lived there for 40 years. A majority of Shias in Iraq, as well as many in Iran and the world over, acknowledge him as their Grand Ayatollah. I speak of Ayatollah Ali Husaini Sistani. So far, he has been a moderate cleric, respected even by the administrator of the US occupation of Iraq, Paul Bremer. Sistani’s leads 15 million Iraqi Shias through the practice of quietism. It would be good for the US viceroy and his soldiers not to believe Sistani’s silence stands for acquiescence to US occupation. The Grand Ayatollah wants Iraq to be a democracy, but he has made it quietly clear that he prefers Iraqis use their self-determination to fashion a democracy that is Islamic in attitude–not Western American. It is also clear from his polite but pointed statements that he expects the US occupiers to leave soon after the 30 June deadline–the date when they promise to hand over sovereignty of Iraq to an Iraqi interim government. Sistani expects national elections will ensue, and the Shia majority will help elect and later dominate a new democratic government by the end of 2004, or by early 2005.

Sistani lives in Najaf, the most sacred city of the Shiite sect of Islam, the site of the martyrdom of their founder, Ali, the grandson of Muhammad. It is their Vatican, and in many ways the Grand Ayatollah, born in Iran, but residing there for over 40 years, is their pope. With Saddam gone, the Shias from outside of Iraq, from Iran and all over the world, expect Najaf will again become their center of religious pilgrimage, learning and theocratic power. Sistani patiently waits while younger, more violent, clerics like al-Sadr use violence to accomplish this dream. They do not have Sistani’s blessing in this.

Is the dark eyed and black bearded rabble-rouser, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Nostradamus’ “black one”?

During the Saddam Hussein dictatorship his much revered father, the Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr oversaw the al-Hawza (the main school of Shia instruction) in Najaf. He became so popular that Saddam Hussein had him assassinated in 1999. After the fall of Saddam, al-Sadr the son attempted to take his father’s place leading the al-Hawza in Najaf. He did so with an added malevolence his father may have never condoned. The Aljazeera web site states:

“His followers surrounded the home of Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, an Iranian citizen, asking him to leave the country soon after occupation. This followed the murder of the prominent Shia cleric Abd al-Majid al-Khoei who had returned to Iraq with US forces after years in exile returned to Iraq.”

Al-Sadr the son has neither his father’s theological knowledge or authority, though his passionate oratory has inspired the younger and unemployed followers of his father, many of whom joined the younger al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi militia. Al-Sadr’s newspaper, al-Hawza, made it abundantly clear that he rejected the US occupation and their idea of a provisional Iraqi governing council. He did foment passionate yet non-violent resistance to the US occupation until US authorities shut down al-Hawza the end of March 2004, alleging it was inciting violence. Mass demonstrations of al-Sadr’s followers ensued until 5 April 2004–the day he concluded that non-violent protest was useless and urged his followers and militia to “terrorize their enemies.”

There is a clear and present danger this rebellion will spread beyond al-Sadr’s small movement and ignite an insurrection across two thirds of Iraq, among the Iraqi Shias. And yet, it may well turn out that the al-Sadr rebellion in itself will be impotent unless the US forces gathering their tanks around Najaf should use heavy handed tactics to seize al-Sadr hiding inside the holy city of all Shia factions. Even if the US occupiers show restraint in the 11th hour, there may yet be a terrible rebellion brewing, beyond their worst nightmares. It could come from a command or a statement of displeasure from Sistani if he thinks the US forces aren’t pulling out of Iraq fast enough after 30 June.

Even though al-Sadr is not the “Iranian” Ayatollah I foresaw in the verses of Nostradamus it is a well-known fact that Iraqi Shia militias receive arms and financial aid donated by militant Iranian ayatollahs smuggled across Iraq’s 900-mile border with Iran. This April, the former Iranian president, Rafsanjani, went as far as praising al-Sadr’s uprising, calling his al-Mahdi militiamen “enthusiastic, heroic young people.” Ayatollah Sistani who condemned the actions of al-Sadr also publicly condemned the heavy handed US military response for the devastation and suffering it caused innocent citizens of Shia towns and cities across Iraq.

The stage is set for the “black one.” The names of Ayatollahs have changed, but the source of their rebellion still leads to my first choice back in 1986, the founder of a militant Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. Back in the 1960s, Khomeini lived in the holy city of Najaf as an exile of the Shah of Iran, an American backed dictator. The rise of another American backed dictator in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, in the 1970s forced Khomeini from Najaf into exile in England. There he planned the Iranian revolution that overthrew the Shah and brought his triumphant return to Iran in the late 1970s. Then came the Iran-Iraq War. Saddam’s invasion of Khomeini’s Iran faltered, and US supply of chemicals and expertise for manufacturing weapons of mass destruction and daily intelligence reports from US satellites aided Saddam’s successful defense against Iranian counterattacks. What seemed imminent to me for 1987 was wrong. The Iranian revolution didn’t topple Saddam Hussein, break up Iraq and spread its brand of Islamic radicalism as far west as Egypt as far north as Turkey. And yet, Khomeini’s revolution is still alive and waiting.

It could topple a new government and break up post-Saddam Iraq, and it could happen and very soon.

An Islamic fundamentalist party rules Turkey at this moment. For now they pledge to respect and uphold the secular Turkish constitution. What will happen in Turkey if Iraq falls into chaos, the Iraqi Kurds declare their independence, and the eastern third of Turkey, populated by Kurds fights to secede from Turkey?

What of Egypt? At this moment the ailing president, Mubarak, has long and brutally suppressed a volcano of Islamic militancy in Egypt. What happens if Iraq falls into chaos, and Mubarak should pass away? A Shia rebellion against Western occupation in Iraq might galvanize Egyptians to overthrow the pro-Western government of Mubarak, or his successor, as Century 6 Quatrain 33 may infer.

Let us again see examine the riddles of “bloody Alus” and the “back one” framed in the light of volatile events in early 2004:

His power finally through bloody Alus,
He will be unable to protect himself by sea.
Between two rivers he will fear the military hand,
The black one will make the angry one repent of it.

Line one’s “Alus” anagram is rich with decoded potentials covering both sides of the conflict. The line, “his power finally through bloody Alus,” could point to the power a black robed Ayatollah extremist has rekindled to incite a Shiite rebellion against a draconian occupying force Nostradamus calls “bloody Alus.” A rudimentary use of the laws of anagram easily transforms the riddle “Alus” into “l’usa” (or, “the USA” in English)!

One can also drop the “u” in “Alus” and replace it with an “i” to imply (Ali S)istani. In that case “his power” stands for al-Sadr’s “power” to incite rebellion beyond his own small movement infecting Sistani’s followers “through” a union with the “bloody Ali” Sistani. Taking this farther, perhaps Nostradamus qualifies “Alus” as “bloody” because he saw visions of Shia men in these parades of devotion ritually slicing their foreheads and thus bathing their heads and shoulders in blood; or, he saw them flogging their backs to a “bloody” mess while they celebrated the martydom of their founder, Ali (“Alus”).

Line two in previous interpretations stood for Saddam Hussein’s inability to defend himself from US coalition cruise and jet aircraft attacks from the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. Given Nostradamus’ predilection to hide multiple meanings in his quatrains, one might also add that the forces of the bloody “l’USA-Alus” occupation will find their supply lines to the Persian Gulf cut in a future rebellion. If all southern Iraq rose in rebellion the US convoys strung along hundreds of miles of lonely roads would be under constant attack from Baghdad all the way to the port of Um Qasir. (“He will not be able to protect himself from the sea.”)

Line three describes the “two rivers” of Iraq–the Tigris and Euphrates. This line first applied itself in earlier interpretations to the “fear” Saddam Hussein felt when pitted against US forces in the Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003. A deeper layer of prescient meaning might denote an Ayatollah leading a future rebellion of Shiites in a far more heavy handed battle to come in the streets of cities across southern Iraq after 30 June.

The “black one” should fear the military hand of the Bush administration. Iraq will suffer a bloodbath–one that line four implies. One that even a “black” robed Ayatollah as moderate as Grand Ayatollah Sistani might unleash if he challenges the “angry one”–a frustrated President Bush–to “repent” his escalating military violence by ordering a general strike and rebellion of 15 million Iraqi Shias.

Nine months ago I wrote the following warning in a bulletin about a prophecy of Nostradamus related to 6 Q33. I concluded that Century 3, Quatrain 61 described a disastrous future Christian Crusade in modern-day Iraq:

The great host and sect of the crusaders,
Will be massed in Mesopotamia [modern day Iraq]:
Of the nearby river the fast company,
That such law will hold for the enemy.

I’ll close the bulletin with what I said in July 2003. It appears more pertinent than ever:

“The final line seen in the light of the 2003 invasion, becomes more ominous for America. Indeed, a clearer picture arises of just what Nostradamus might intend for the ‘law’ that will ‘hold for the enemy.’ Saddam’s dictatorial ‘law’ survived the Gulf War of 1991 only to be replaced by a new tyranny–the ‘Sharia’ law of Shiite fundamentalism.

“The law of the Sharia will hold Iraq because the American president’s preemptive war and occupation is the cataylst. A force-fed Iraqi puppet democracy will radicalize the country. The guerrilla insurrection will grow in strength long after the US captures or kills Saddam. This insurrection may be the match setting the fires of a 27-year war foreseen by Nostradamus in his famous ‘Mabus’ and ‘Third Antichrist’ prophecies [2 Q62 and 8 Q77].”

[HogueProphecy Bulletin, 11 July 2003,
New Crusades and Quagmires]

It would appear that forces are in motion. Without a dramatic and more thought out Iraqi occupation policy enacted soon, Alus–or “L’usa” (the USA)–will face a future quagmire in Iraq after 30 June that is very “bloody.”

John Hogue
(22 April 2004)

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