September 3, 2004
Sadr's reign of terrorBy Douglas Hanson
The terms most often used to describe the armed followers of the renegade Shia leader Muqtada al—Sadr have varied depending upon who is doing the reporting. The major wire services seem to prefer the term 'insurgent,' possibly to convey some noble quality to Sadr's band as they battle the ferocious Coalition occupiers and their Iraqi lackeys. With its connotation (to leftists, anyway) of an uprising against unjust rule, the term insurgent also comes in handy when the press provides its daily warning that a massive popular uprising in support of the 'insurgents' is just around the corner if US forces and Iraqi police press their advantage too hard.
Another term used to describe Sadr's group is 'militia;' more specifically, the Mahdi 'militia.' This term presents a picture of a locally organized, grassroots, 'minutemen' type of fighting unit that, in this case, is rallying around the cause of protecting its most important holy city from the infidel invaders.
Too many uninformed and na�ve Americans have taken these false terms, and the images they convey, to heart. Now that the fight in Najaf is over, and Coalition and Iraqi forces have entered the buildings immediately surrounding the Imam Ali mosque, the plain truth about these 'insurgents' is there for all to see. And, according to military intelligence officials, the investigation has just begun to scratch the surface.
At the height of the fighting in Najaf, The American Thinker relayed a report from the US Central Command which went into detail on the friendly order of battle and the fighting taking place in and around the Wadi al—Salam cemetery. At the time, CENTCOM provided initial findings from US forces operating in the cemetery and noted,
The AIF [Anti—Iraqi Forces] kidnapped their victims, including innocent civilians, bringing them to the cemetery for torture, execution, and burial.
There was no follow up reporting on the victims, or the circumstances surrounding their deaths, but as it turned out, it was only the tip of the iceberg. On September 2, The Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough reported that military intelligence personnel concluded that Muqtada al—Sadr's 'militia' conducted an organized campaign of terror, torture, and mutilation targeting any Iraqi opposing Sadr's uprising against the Iraqi government and the Coalition.
US intelligence is now just starting a detailed investigation in Najaf, and while they have found photographic evidence of 15 to 20 mutilated bodies lying in a courtyard, further information may prove this terror campaign was much worse in scope and intensity. After the truce was brokered, Iraqi forces moved into the vacated buildings once held by the Sadr's thugs, and according to the intelligence report,
'...found approximately 200 mutilated bodies taken by the Moqtada militia for speaking out against Moqtada al Sadr," and "Some of the prisoners had eyes and ears drilled out and others had their limbs and heads cut off. Some males had genitals cut off and shoved in their mouths. There was evidence of rape to men, women and children," according to the report.
While the report puts the number of bodies at 200, an intelligence officer said that there were 'much less than 200,' but that further investigations are ongoing.
Intelligence sources also concluded that Sadr was financed by Iranian money, which is no surprise, but also notes that most of Sadr's militia were criminals released from Saddam's jails just before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March of 2003.
There was, in fact, very little possibility of a popular uprising on the part of the vast majority of Iraqis. They knew who the players were: a vile band of terrorist mercenaries bought and paid for with Iranian blood money. The report also notes that,
"They slaughtered the innocent people. Most of the al—Mahdi were criminals jailed during the former regime and released by Saddam before his capture."
Therefore, it should not have been too surprising that Iraqis in the tribal areas just outside of Najaf enthusiastically joined up with Gen. Ghalib Hadi's Najaf Police Force to help tighten the noose around the so—called Mahdi militia.
If this evidence against Sadr and his terrorist thugs holds, his future in mainstream Iraqi politics will come to an abrupt end with the issuance of a second arrest warrant against the Shia leader for these new crimes. Once US forces found evidence of torture and mutilation in early August in the Wadi al—Salam cemetery, any 'peace deal' brokered by the Iraqi government and al—Sadr was simply a vehicle to bring this Iranian agent of influence to justice before the Iraqi people.
Even though it looks like the end of the Iranian 'rat line' in Najaf, the end of the Syrian rat line in city of Fallujah still must be taken care of. It also appears that the situation in Fallujah will ultimately mirror the horrors uncovered in Najaf. A CENTCOM press release describes a Coalition air strike on a terrorist safe house used by followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi. However, the article also says that,
The Zarqawi associates were observed removing a man from the trunk of a car, executing him then burying his body.
The events in Iraq over the last several weeks have revealed to the world the true nature of the opposition to the Coalition and the people of Iraq. These thugs are not 'insurgents,' 'militia,' or 'freedom fighters.' They are low—life hatchet men, murderers, and rapists in the hire of those who stand to lose the most from a free and prosperous Iraq.
And lose they will.
Douglas Hanson is our military affairs correspondent