About a thousand pilgrims died during the scattering that took place in a bridge in Baghdad on August 31, 2001. When the Minister of the Interior, Bayan Baker Solagh, appeared on television, he stated: “There was a huge crowd in the bridge and a terrorist spread a rumor that caused the scattering (...). The terrorist pointed out to somebody else had some explosives…people panicked.” National Security Adviser Mouwaffak Al-Roubaie specified: “Sadam and Zarkaui’s supporters were the ones who spread the rumor in the bridge and that’s why people got panicked.”

By considering perhaps that the Iraqi government is a reliable source, a great part of the international press used this information without comparing it with other sources. Thus, several newspapers announced on the front page that drama was ascribable to rumor. By doing this, they exonerated in advance the occupation forces and the government. However, some elements deny this version of facts:
- The pilgrims’ route had been indicated by the police and the adjacent streets were blocked. Therefore, the crowd had no way out. Some time later, the Iraqi policemen that were at the place where everything happened were confined to barracks in the Ministry of Interior to avoid their contact with the press.
- Some mortar bombs were shot near the mosque pilgrims were going to, certainly provoking confusion and disorder in the crowd, said several witnesses, including Reuters’ reporter. This version was picked up in the communiqué issued by the British presidency of the European Union. Who shot and who was the target are still unknown. Based on the official version, and with no critical analysis with regard to its incoherence, editorialists criticized the Iraqis’ collective hysteria, victims of the Sadam and Zarkaui’s followers.