Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Al-Mahdi Army talks to the Times

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon a new name in the WOT: Abu Maha, a leader of Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army in western Baghdad, Iraq. I'd never heard of this group or this guy--mistakenly called it the "Mehdi Army" in my earlier post. The London Times has managed to actually interview this maniac. Got some pretty chilling stuff, too:
The thousands-strong militia and a political power base of 32 seats in [Iraq's] Parliament have made Hojatoleslam al-Sadr’s militant Shia movement the strongest in Iraq. The group is blamed for many death squad killings, but has such grassroots appeal that even the Shia premier cancelled plans to clear Sadr City, its Baghdad stronghold.

Accompanied by The Times, Abu Maha cruises past Iraqi soldiers as he plans an attack in Ghazaliyah, a mixed neighbourhood that has been a battleground for months. Ghazaliyah abuts Shula to the north, another enclave of the al-Mahdi Army, and Abu Maha is looking to extend his militia’s influence. He has been watching Sunnis who fled to the neighbourhood from another part of western Baghdad, convinced that they are in league with the Sunni al-Qaeda terrorists. He says that his men will target them — just business as usual for the militant who has no qualms about shedding blood in his mission to protect the Shia.
In July, when Sunni insurgents were firing mortars toward Shula, Abu Maha and a team of fighters received calls from an informer and chased down four suspects by the telephone exchange. They beat the men, forced them into their cars and drove back to Shula. There, Abu Maha says, he took out his 9mm pistol and shot one of the suspects in the head. His gang killed the other three.

His company generally detains people for several days before deciding whether to kill them. In one recent case, Abu Maha says his men abducted a guard from a Sunni mosque. They were convinced that he belonged to a Sunni death squad called the Omar Brigades, known for killing Shias, but after beating and questioning him in a building behind Hojatoleslam al-Sadr’s Shula office, they decided that he was innocent and released him.
The article goes on to outline the whole command structure, describing Abu Maha thusly:
Abu Maha, who used to be a gun seller, is just one of the many foot soldiers in the al-Mahdi Army’s intricate command structure.

Read the entire article and be sure to let me know (post in the comments) if you find more stuff on this. I really can't believe I haven't heard these names more often, since this is, basically, the War in Iraq, isn't it? We shouldn't be using so many vague references in our discussions. Just name the names and splash photos of the faces wherever we can--just like one does with any other sort of criminal!


Post a Comment

<< Home