Good news from Baghdad: Muqtada al-Sadr aide is arrested

Posted by: ST on January 19, 2007 at 9:08 am

The AP reports:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested one of Muqtada al-Sadr’s top aides Friday in Baghdad, his office said, as pressure increased on the radical Shiite cleric’s militia ahead of a planned security crackdown in the capital.

Al-Sadr said in an interview with an Italian newspaper published Friday that the crackdown had already begun and that 400 of his men had been arrested. La Repubblica also quoted him as saying he fears for his life and stays constantly on the move.

The raid came as Defense Secretary Robert Gates began his second trip to Iraq in less than a month, arriving in the southern city of Basra to consult with British and other allied commanders.

Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, al-Sadr’s media director in Baghdad, was captured and his personal guard was killed, according to another senior al-Sadr aide.

“We strongly condemn this cowardly act,” said Sheik Abdul-Zahra al-Suweiadi.

The U.S. military said special Iraqi army forces operating with coalition advisers captured a high-level, illegal armed group leader in Baladiyat, an eastern neighborhood near al-Sadr’s stronghold. It did not identify the detainee, but said two other suspects were detained by Iraqi forces for further questioning.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged to crack down on Shiite militias as well as Sunni insurgents in a planned security operation. His reluctance to confront the Mahdi Army of al-Sadr, his political backer, has led to the failure of previous efforts to stem sectarian violence in Baghdad.

There’s new news on that front as well:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Mahdi Army fighters said Thursday they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in pinpoint nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shiite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting the group under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments.

The two commanders’ account of a growing siege mentality inside the organization could represent a tactical and propaganda feint, but there was mounting evidence the militia was increasingly off balance and had ordered its gunmen to melt back into the population. To avoid capture, commanders report no longer using cell phones and fighters are removing their black uniforms and hiding their weapons during the day.

Captain Ed summarizes:

So what changed? The Bush administration made it clear to Nouri al-Maliki that he was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer this time when it came to breaking the Mahdis. Maliki agreed to the new strategy in Jordan a few weeks ago, and promised that he would not block the mission against Moqtada al-Sadr’s forces. The Sadrites knew that this offense was coming — after all, we could hardly have telegraphed this punch any more clearly — but they did not count on losing their political cover. They also appear to have severely underestimated American intel capability, which has them reeling.

One other dynamic may be at play. Sadr himself, knowing what was about to happen, apparently conducted a purge of his leadership. This is destructive to unit cohesion under the best of circumstances; Stalin crippled his army in the years leading up to World War II after Hitler manipulated Stalin into believing his officer corps was significantly disloyal. Sadr conducted his purge at the same time he was shifting forces around Iraq, making the communications problems even worse than they would have been without the purge.

The insurgents and militias may run out of Baghdad in the coming days, but General Casey insists that the new security plan is “holistic” and designed to account for a sudden retreat. Once they have the Mahdis and the other terrorists on the run, it will make it that much easier to find them and pick them off.

The surge is on. Stay tuned.

Related: Check out today’s Vent over at Hot Air, where you’ll get to see and hear Iraqis speaking to America.

More: Make sure to check out Bryan Preston’s latest report on what he and Michelle Malkin saw during their trip to Iraq.

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20 Responses to “Good news from Baghdad: Muqtada al-Sadr aide is arrested”


  1. Lorica says:

    So much for the Mahdi army. Good Bye, and good riddance. Hopefully, once the commanders are arrested, and convicted, and Sadr himself is dealt with, the rest of the Army will just become regular citizens.

    You also have to wonder how the Dems are going to spin this as bad news. It will have to be GW’s fault somehow.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some intel isn’t found on Sadr that will show he was in alliegence with Iran taking orders directly from Amadinejad. We shall see. – Lorica

  2. tommy in nyc says:

    :-w:-w:-w:-w:-w:-w:-w:-w Whooooooooooaaaaaaa Lorica this “surge” is only in it’s infancy. It’s a good start sure but I would take a wait and see attitude for the time being. Remember this government of Iraq let some of the Mahdi Army into Saddam’s execution chambers talking trash and making the new government look incompetant.

  3. tommy, would you start using like half of the emoticons you that you normally do now in each post? :-w

  4. tommy in nyc says:

    no problem ST. Off topic it’s going to be the Saints and the Colts playing for the Lombardi Trophy.

  5. Great White Rat says:

    Well, HERE’s something I never thought I’d be saying: I actually agree, in principle, with Tommy. Yes, it’s a good sign, but I want to see some assurances that it isn’t a stunt to prove a point, after which things revert to the status quo.

    That said, here’s another point: what happens if, indeed, this IS a change for the better? How long will it take the Dems to try to undermine it? Remember, only about half the Democrats want America to succeed in Iraq anyway. So if this shows promise, will the congressional leadership stand up to any nutroots campaign to abandon the strategy? Or will they join it? I have less confidence at that score.

  6. PCD says:

    I think Al Sadr should be arrested and tried fot the killing of a rival cleric. There had been a warrant out. Reopen the damn thing and go after him under the law. If he refused to surrender peacefully, I’m sure we can play, “Under the B, … 52”.

  7. Baklava says:

    GWR asked, “How long will it take the Dems to try to undermine it?

    Tommy is a Dem and he’s already trying to undermine it. No?

    Aid and comfort with every post. :o x 10 of these emoticons to catch up.:-"

  8. Lorica says:

    From the article:

    Al-Sadr said in an interview with an Italian newspaper published Friday that the crackdown had already begun and that 400 of his men had been arrested, confirming an earlier statement by al-Maliki. La Repubblica also quoted the cleric as saying he fears for his life and stays constantly on the move.

    I will agree in principle, that it is my hope that this isn’t some dog and pony show. But I am getting the impression that it isn’t. Al-Sadr is on the run moving from place to place?? Sounds reminiscent of Ol’Sadamn. If many of these 400 are officers and commanders it is possible that this militia will just disolve. From last I seen there is only 10,000 members to this militia. What is it going to do without officers or a leader???

    Like I said in my original post, I hope that they find something that will tie Al-Sadr to Iran. It should be interested. I am hopeful, I am optimistic, but I am not a dreamer. I quite well understand that this could yet be foolish thinking. – Lorica

  9. tommy in nyc says:

    That’s amusing Baklava. (sarcasm rolling my eyes)

  10. Baklava says:

    Can you show me a post that doesn’t undermine our efforts and doesn’t give aid and comfort to the enemy? I’ll gladly read it again. ;)) x 10

  11. tommy in nyc says:

    HJow about my first one today Baklava? Typical wingnut BS.

  12. Baklava says:

    Here’s tommy’s first post (I bolded what I thought was negative for our side):

    Whooooooooooaaaaaaa Lorica this “surge” is only in it’s infancy. It’s a good start sure but I would take a wait and see attitude for the time being. Remember this government of Iraq let some of the Mahdi Army into Saddam’s execution chambers talking trash and making the new government look incompetant.

    Yep. Typical Wingnut BS. Why do you continue that way. Accusations in every post of yours. You like that kind of debate. You make accusations for people to respond to and then you don’t look at that perspective so it’s talking in circles? It’s as if you get high off of making people respond to your accusations and negativity.

    Here’s an exerpt of an interview between Hugh Hewitt and a three tour veteran of Iraq, Army Chief Warrant Officer Chris:

    HH: Now I’m talking with Chief Warrant Officer Chris. Which branch are you in? Are you in the Army then, Chris?

    Chris: I’m an Army intel officer.

    HH: All right. Let me ask you this. This is sort of an emotional reaction. Do you like the Iraqi people?

    Chris: I love the Iraqi people.

    HH: When you hear people talk about withdrawing and let the chips fall, does that strike you…

    Chris: It infuriates me.

    HH: Tell me why.

    Chris: Because just as in America, Iraq has their bad seeds, their bad eggs, whatever you want to call them. But it’s a minority. It’s a very small percentage, but just like anywhere else, that very small percentage makes the most noise, and therefore, they’re the most noticeable. Most of the Iraqi people that I’ve dealt with would give you the shirt off their back if you ask for it, not even needed it, not wanted it. If you just ask for it, it’s yours. You show interest in something of theirs, it’s yours. They’re very giving, they’re very kind, they’re very smart, and they just, just like us, they want a chance. I’m biased, because I have spent one heck of a lot of time with the Iraqi people. And by and large, they are one heck of a good group of people.

    HH: Warrant Officer Chris, we’ve got about a minute left. Can we win there?

    Chris: We can, but it’s going to take some resolve, and we know…like I said from the beginning, we know it’s a dangerous job, but we accept it. There’s going to be deaths. We know that. Everyone in the military, just about, knows someone that’s been killed over there. But it’s a volunteer army. We can do it, we can…it won’t be easy, it won’t be quick. But with support from the American people, we can do it.

    Are you ready to change Tommy? Can you “support”? Or will continue your pattern and then deny your pattern?

  13. *dons black and white referee shirt* Chill out, gents – it’s Friday :)

  14. Baklava says:

    I want pictures of that ! :d

    P.S. But it’s so fun to push tommy’s button. He thinks I’m questioning his patriotism but I’m not. I’m questioning his words and behavior. He’s made clear he loves the U.S. Unfortunately he isn’t helpful to our efforts but is helpful to the enemy.

    Anyways. I apologize for the button pushing.

  15. tommy in nyc says:

    [-o< I like to see ST in that shirt also Baklava:d we just agree to disagree on this one. I think giving cash to organizations to help the welfare of our servicermembers is certainly not providing aid and comfort to our enemies. Which is something all Americans do if they are able to.

  16. Baklava says:

    Giving cash to organizations wasn’t at issue. Can you pinpoint (focus like a laserbeam as Michael Medved says) on where I confronted you on the cash that you give to organizations? No.

    What do I question? It be interesting to hear your point of view even though I haven’t seen reading comprehension as your strong point. I’d like to know why you see what you see because it’ll improve communications between us.

  17. Lorica says:

    Can I get that bottle of soda water please!!! – Lorica :))

  18. tommy in nyc says:

    Look Iraq is a very unstable and dangerous place where to be completely honest would take decades to rebuild. Decades!!!!! You almost everything that 43 Adminstration said was going to happen didn’t. For example didn’t these guys say to profits from Iraq’s oil production would finance to cost of the war. That’s just one and i could go on and on till it get dark outside. I wonder really at the end of the day whether after the amount of secreterian violence that has taken place if Iraq can even survive as a nation at this point. My biggest fear is if the when we eventually draw down a full blown civil war is going to break out. Right now that looks very possible IMHO

  19. PCD says:

    I get to use a water cannon on Tommy!

  20. Baklava says:

    See Tommy. All negative all the time. Aid and comfort to the enemy. Your words and behavior are consistent. We know where you stand. You repeate inaccurate accusations and for what reason? Do you want failure? :-?