February 20, 2005

Muqtada al-Sadr

Muqtada al-Sadr in An Najaf 2004

Muqtada al-Sadr was in born in 1974 in Iraq.He is the defacto leader within Sadr City an impoverished suburb of Baghdad.His father a well respected figure throughout the Shia world was murdered in Najaf along with his 2 brothers by the goverment of Saddam Husseins Baath Party in 1999.Al Sadrs father in law was murdered in 1980 by the former Iraq regime.Al Sadr does not claim the title Mujahid or the authority to issue Fatwas and basis his religious authority on his lineage and not religious education.Between the young and impoverished Shia of Iraq,he is much loved and respected,commanding the Mehdi Army with a following of upto a million armed Shia,The CPA ordered al Sadr to disband the Mehdi army and he refused saying it is "Gods Army and not his and only God can disband it".He has at times a tense relationship with other Shia clerics,he is rumoured to have been involved in the 2003 assination of al Khoei and al Hakim.
Of the initial 2004 U.S invasion,al Sadr stood on the side lines and took command of social services,controlling law and order within his traditional areas,starting a newspaper and small media service.This however was to change when on a peaceful Sadr march against occupation,U.S forces opened fire,killing 12 civilians and injuring dozens more,this action was to be repeated on several occassions,the straw that seemed to push al Sadr over the edge was when his newspaper and media service was brutally put down and disbanded by the occupation forces,resulting in dozens of Shia clerics being investigated and hundreds to thousands of Al Sadr supporters arrested.Al Sadrs,Mehdi army took up arms and fully engaged in resistance combat against occupation forces and those they claimed as collaborators.Joining forces with Sunni resistance elements.When Fallujah a Sunni city in western Iraq was under seige from American forces,Al Sadrs Shia supporters marched to Fallujah carrying water and supplies for the Sunni citizens of the embattered city and it is said that the Mehdi army engaged alongside Sunni resistance elements in Fallujah.In August 2004 The U.S provoked a direct confrontation with the Mehdi army in the Holy city of Najaf,the battle lasted a month causing severe destruction to the City and the Holy Mosque itself with thousands of dead and injured.Al Sadr was to lay relatively low from that period on,though it is said that he and the Mehdi army have been pro active with the resistance within Iraq.