ROWLAND HEIGHTS ( — Imam Moustafa al-Qazwini, a religious scholar born in Iraq and living in Rowland Heights, said his homeland is on the verge of a civil war.

“It’s going to be worse than Syria. Worse than Syria,” the imam said. “I don’t want to think about it. I really don’t want to think about it. If those people really advance toward Baghdad…it will be a major catastrophe for the entire region.”

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The imam’s family lives in the south and have reported to him that refugees are fleeing north by the thousands.

“When we see a quick advancement of these terrorist groups taking over cities left and right then there is nowhere safe in Iraq,” he said.

The imam is scheduled to fly to Iraq next week to join his wife and adult son, who are there now.

He will also continue his work on a hospital and several orphanages.

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“They say our fate is in the hand of God. There is no government to defend them. There’s no strong military to defend them. Then they resort to God,” he said.

The imam’s living room has a painting of the city of Karbala, where his mother and father live and where his wife and son are visiting, just 60 miles south of Baghdad.

“I have not changed my plans. I’m going next week to be with my family and to be with the people there. We need to provide moral support,” he said.

The Obama administration has given no indication that more American troops will be sent to the region.

The imam believes it’s too late, anyway.

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“We knew that there were these terrorist groups still existing in the area. In Iraq and in the neighboring countries. We did not do enough to combat radicalism and terrorism in that area,” he said.