Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Shiite Firebrand Cleric al-Sadr In Tehran
Friday, March 7, 2008 2:34 PM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
Firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is being treated by
foreign doctors in a Tehran clinic for a potentially life-threatening
illness, sources in Baghdad told Newsmax on Friday.
The Iraqi cleric, who ordered his Iranian-backed “Mahdi Army” last
August to refrain from terrorist attacks against U.S. or coalition
forces for six months, has angered hard-line supporters who want to
resume terrorist attacks, the sources said.
Muqtada al-Sadr is the last remaining scion of a much-revered family of
Iraqi Shiite clerics, and is a distant relative of former Iranian
president, Mohammad Khatami.
His Mahdi Army has received significant military and financial support
from Iran and became a driving force in the early “resistance” to the
international coalition that liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Sadr’s Iranian backers pushed him to declare a ceasefire last August,
as part of an Iranian strategy to lull the United States into believing
that the “surge” of U.S. troops was having a permanent impact on the
Iraqi domestic political scene.
But Sadr’s hard-line supporters, who maintain separate lines of support
to the Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, were angry with the
ceasefire, and have continued to use Iranian-supplied IEDs in terrorist
attacks against U.S. and coalition forces.
U.S. military officials have fingered the Iranian Revolutionary Guards
for supplying Explosively-formed penetrators – a particularly deadly
form of IED – to splinter groups of the Sadrist militia.
Admiral William Fallon, commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command,
criticized the Iranian regime for its ongoing support of “lawless
militia groups” in testimony on Tuesday before the Senate Armed
“From the East, Iran pursues a destabilizing political and ideological
agenda and is a key source of finance, weapons and training support to
lawless militia groups,” Fallon said.
“The Iranian regime provides Shia militia groups in Iraq with training,
funding and weapons including lethal Explosively Formed Penetrators
(EFPs), a particularly deadly form of Improvised Explosive Device
(IED),” he added.
Newsmax sources in Baghdad who are close to Sadr said that the split
within his organization has become lethal in recent months, as
hard-liners close to the Revolutionary Guards Qods Force have sought to
break the ceasefire and continue attacks against U.S. and coalition
“Muqtada’s ceasefire offer outraged his own people,” the sources told
Newsmax on Friday. “So they penetrated his inner sanctum, in an effort
to stop him. They are willing to kill him to get him to walk back the
Former Sadr spokesman, Baha al-Araji, has become a key leader of the
break-away splinter groups, sources in Baghdad said. Mr. al-Araji is
also a member of the Iraqi parliament.
Al-Araji has consistently argued that Sadr’s Mahdi army should not lay
down its arms.
“The people underneath Muqtada al-Sadr, in Parliament and in his
movement, make Muqtada look like a candy salesman,” a knowledgeable
Western source in Baghdad told Newsmax.
“When you look into the eyes of someone like Baha al-Araji, you are
looking into the eyes of the Devil, He is one scarcy s.o.b,” the source
The Iranian regime is supporting al-Sadr and his relatively
conciliatory approach at the same time they are supporting al-Araji,
sources in Baghdad told Newsmax.
“Sadr is the clerical figurehead, while al-Araji represents the Quds
force influence,” the sources said.
As a member of parliament, Al-Araji has been awarded three large villas
in the Green Zone in Baghdad, and has rented out two of them to British
defense contractors for substantial cash payments.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that these contractors – whether
knowingly, or unknowingly – are directly providing financial support to
a terrorist organization,” a knowledgeable Western source in Baghdad
The Kuwaiti daily al-Siyassa reported earlier this week that Muqtada
al-Sadr had been “secretly transferred” a few days ago to a Tehran
hospital in a comatose condition, following a bout of food poisoning.
Sources in Baghdad close to Sadr confirmed to Newsmax on Friday that
the Iraqi Shiite cleric was indeed in a Tehran hospital and was being
treated by “foreign” specialists, presumably Russians.
But they could not confirm the seriousness of his condition or reports
that he was near death.
© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
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