Shiites Will Resist Efforts To Destroy Them Says Moqtada
01/19/07 Rome, 19 Jan. (AKI)
- In a long interview with Rome-daily La Repubblica
published Friday, Iraqi Shiite radical leader Moqtada
al-Sadr said he has never trusted prime minister Nouri
al-Maliki nor his predecessor Iyad Allawi, whom he
described as the brains behind a US-backed plot to
destroy him and his militia. Al-Sadr said a crackdown on
him and his al-Mahdi Army "has already kicked off."
"Last night they arrested over 400 of my people. But it
is not us they want to destroy, it's Islam," he said.
A prominent aide of al-Sadr was arrested by Iraqi and
United States forces in Baghdad on Friday. The US
military said the man arrested was a senior death squad
leader. But a spokesman for al-Sadr's political office
told Reuters the man detained was Abdul Hadi al Darraji,
a media spokesman.
Friday's arrest follows a crackdown, announced by Iraqi
prime minister Nouri al Maliki on the al-Mahdi Army,
involving 400 arrests this week, and coincides with the
arrival in Basra of US defence secretary Robert Gates to
meet the US commander in Iraq, General George Casey.
In the interview to the Italian paper, al-Sadr also
denied that members of his militia have infiltrated the
army and police.
"The exact opposite has happened: it is our militia
which is full of spies. It is actually very easy to
infiltrate an army of the people."
The Shiite leader also denied that the guards who
chanted his name and insulted late Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein during his execution had nothing to do with him.
"No, they were not my men," he said. "Those were people
paid to disparage me, to make me appear like the person
respondible for the hanging."
While Saddam Hussein was standing on the trapdoor with
the noose being fastened around his neck on 30 December
last year, guards insulted him and chanted the name of
Moqtada al-Sadr. A total 14 witnesses were reportedly
present at the execution at the former military
intelligence headquarters in Baghdad's highly fortified
Green Zone, and some reports alleged the Shiite leader
was among them.