They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Friday, February 10, 2006

Iraq: Mahdi Army - Folk heroes to some

FT: The chiefs of Baghdad

Eighteen months ago, the radical Iraqi Shia movement known as the Sadrists was at war with the country's interim government and its US backers in the streets of the holy city of Najaf while their young upstart leader Moqtada al-Sadr was a fugitive. Now the Sadrists are one of the partners in the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shia coalition that dominates government and is likely to be one of the most powerful forces shaping Iraqi politics in the next four years.

This may alarm many people outside Iraq, but the Sadrists are folk heroes in parts of Baghdad, perceived as tough but fair men who do the job that the government can't or won't do. Through an Iraqi colleague, whom I shall call Haydar, I came to learn about some of the things the Sadrists do through their "Mahdi Army", in particular a group that specialises in tracking down people kidnapped by Baghdad's criminal gangs. Read more