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Iraqi Cleric Threatens Action if U.S. Forces Remain

Iraqi crowd chants ‘No, no America’

Followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr wave Iraqi flags as they burn an effigy of former U.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. flags on Saturday, April 9, 2011 during a rally marking the eighth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to American troops. Al-Sadr has threatened to reactivate his feared militia in Iraq if U.S. soldiers extend their stay. (Photo: Karim Kadim / AP)

By Bushra Juhi

April 9, 2011

BAGHDAD — A powerful anti-American Shiite cleric threatened Saturday to reactivate his feared militia if American soldiers remain in Iraq beyond this year, after a U.S. offer to keep troops on if they are needed.

Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers on the eighth anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s ouster that stopped just short of calling for violent action against U.S. forces. He accused “the occupation” of inciting panic, corruption and unrest among Iraqis.

His statement was read aloud at a huge protest of tens of thousands in Baghdad’s Mawal Square, near al-Sadr’s stronghold in an eastern Baghdad slum. The cleric is in Iran, where he has been studying religion for the last several years.

“What if the invasion forces will not leave our lands?” al-Sadr asked in the statement, which was read at the protest by his aide Salah al-Obeidi. “What if the U.S. forces and others stay in our beloved lands? What if their companies and embassy headquarters will continue to exist with the American flags hoisted on them? Will you be silent? Will you overlook this?”

“No, no America. No, no America,” the crowd shouted in reply. …

Under a security agreement between Washington and Baghdad, U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq at the end of 2011. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who needed al-Sadr’s support to keep his job after his party failed to win a majority in national elections last year, has said repeatedly he believes the American forces will no longer be needed in Iraq by next year.

But many Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers want U.S. troops to stay, fearing Iraq is still too unstable to be able to protect itself should Iran begin to play a more active role in the country after American forces leave. …

Full story


Down the Memory Hole

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, U.S. Army:  “The target is Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia. We will hunt them down and we will destroy them” (2004).


Related reports on this site

Sadr’s Triumphant Return to Iraq (Jan. 8, 2011)

Image: Followers gather for prayers in Sadr City, Baghdad, beside a poster of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
Followers gather for Friday prayers in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, near a poster depicting radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

In Iraq, ‘Victory’ for Iran (Nov. 12, 2010)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Muqtada al-Sadr Rises to Power (Oct. 1, 2010)

In Sadr City district of Baghdad, a billboard has an image of Moktada al-Sadr, second from left. His candidates won 40 seats in last March’s elections. (Photo credit: Shiho Fukada / The New York Times)

Pro-Iran Pact Emerges in Iraq (May 5, 2010)

US puppet Iraq Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and anti-U.S. Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr emerge from their meeting in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Wednesday Oct. 18, 2006. Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is the founder and is said by the US to be the leader of Iraq's most feared militia, the Mahdi Army. Picture: AP/Alaa al-Marjani
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr emerge from a meeting in Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, in this October 2006 file photograph. (Photo credit: Alaa Al-Marjani / AP)

Muqtada al-Sadr on the March (March 31, 2010)

Image: Shiite demonstrators in Baghdad
Thousands of demonstrators march during a rally at Firdous Square in Baghdad, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who called America “an enemy of Islam,” marched against a pact letting U.S. forces stay in Iraq until 2011 and toppled an effigy of President George W. Bush where U.S. troops once tore down a statue of Saddam Hussein. (Photo credit: Ali al-Saadi / AFP — Getty Images)

Iraq Set to Elect Pro-Iran Leader (Feb. 25, 2010)

Iraq Protest
A protester uses his shoe to strike an effigy of President Bush, as thousands of followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr converge on Firdous Square in central Baghdad, Iraq, for a protest against a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact, Nov. 21, 2009. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

Muqtada al-Sadr Urges ‘Revenge Operations’ (Jan. 9, 2009)

Image: Moqtada Al-Sadr Supporters Rally Against US Presence In Iraq
Iraqi supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burn an American flag during a protest on Thursday, April 9, 2009 to mark six years after the fall of Baghdad to U.S.-led forces. (Photo credit: Muhannad Fala’ah / Getty Images)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 9, 2010

Al-Qaida Nuclear Terror Threat

The White House roof in all its glory
Al-Qaida’s Next High-Value Target

One year ago today, I reported that the White House issued a warning that al-Qaida was quietly hunting for an atomic bomb, adding urgency to a historic summit where President Barack Obama aimed to persuade world leaders to step up their efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — April 9, 2009

A ‘Rash of Lies and Falsehoods’

Two years ago today, on April 9, 2009, I reported that PolitiFact debunked Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim, in an April 7, 2009 op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that President Barack Obama’s cap and trade proposal would cost every household in America more than $3,000 in energy costs a year. (It may not be good policy, but it’s wrong to go and lie about it.)

4 Responses to “Muqtada Al-Sadr Threatens to Unleash Mahdi Army Militia”
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