The MuslimMuslin world's most senior Shiite scholar has returned to his hometown of Najaf, Iraq said Saturday.

The Iraqi news agency INA said the cleric, Grand Ayatollah Abolqassem al-Khoei, had again denounced Shiite rebellions aimed at overthrowing Saddam, a Sunni Muslim.Shiite Iran said this week that Khoei had been taken forcibly to Baghdad by troops. On Wednesday, Khoei appeared on television with Saddam whom he praised for crushing the uprising in the south that flared after the end of the gulf war.

In Saturday's report, INA quoted the 90-year-old cleric as saying, "Words cannot describe the warm reception he (Saddam) gave me and the sympathy and love he showed me."