Sadr’s return short-lived after threats from Asaib al Haq

Remember all of the fawning coverage of Muqtada al Sadr as the new kingmaker and the most powerful man in Iraq after his return to the country on Jan. 5? So much for a triumphant return by Sadr; he’s fled Iraq yet again (he has already spent three-plus years in Iran, between 2007-2011). This time he fears being killed by members of the Asaib al Haq, or the League of the Righteous, the Mahdi Army splinter group, and being jailed for his involvement in killing a prominent Shia cleric in 2003. From Asharq Al Awsat:

Well informed Iraqi sources in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Qom have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, who returned to Iran after spending only two weeks in Iraq, left after receiving threats from the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, and due to fears that the arrest warrant, issued against him against the backdrop of the assassination of Shiite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei in April 2003, would be enforced.

Informed sources in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf disclosed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “those observing what is happening did not expect al-Sadr to remain in the city of Najaf for long, because of rumours about serious threats being issued against him by the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group. The Asaib Ahl al-Haq group is said to have issued a statement declaring the killing of Moqtada al-Sadr lawful. This statement was then distributed to some residents of Najaf, who subsequently detailed its content to the leader of the Sadrist movement.”

The Najaf source also revealed that “sources close to al-Sadr informed him of their fears that governmental parties – in a reference to Nouri al-Maliki – will try to exploit the arrest warrant issued against him by a Najaf investigative judge in late 2003…for al-Khoei’s death.”

More on the Asaib al Haq here. This Iranian-backed terror group has emerged as the most powerful Shia terror faction operating in Iraq.

As we noted on Jan. 5, Sadr isn’t quite the powerful man he once was:

And Sadr doesn’t have nearly the street cred he had at the height of his power, in the fall of 2006 when Mahdi Army death squads terrorized Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Sadr has now been reduced to squabbling with the Asaib al Haq, or League of the Righteous, a violent Mahdi Army offshoot that disdains Sadr.

Fleeing Najaf after receiving death threats, and fearing arrest over an eight-year-old warrant the Iraqi government has shied away from enforcing, show that Sadr isn’t all he’s made out to be in many media circles.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • DJ Elliott says:

    lol. Very Appropriate video choice for Iran’s lackey…

  • bob says:

    Amusing, yes. Do I like Al Sadr? Absolutely not. But we must remember it could be a lot better to have him and his gang in politics than an even more fringe terror group. This could actually be a BAD development. But its poetic justice too- he preached chaos, now he’s having another taste of it…

  • PJ says:

    Mookie had alot of clout early in the war, but it seems his trip to Iran might have ticked of some of his boys. We shoulda just took him out before he left the first time. I do not believe the Shia will follow him like they did with his father. The Shia terrorists i worry about are the League of Righteous and those Iranian brothers (1 we had detained) who are resposible for the ambush on US soldiers when the came in they gate usinf US clothing.

  • Ranger says:

    Nice report, Bill. I didn’t expect it to happen quite so fast (I’ll just repeat my comment from) >
    “We shoulda whacked him so many times, but I see somebody else in Iraq getting him in time. Revenge and all, and a position of greatly reduced esteem for Mookie make him an eminently more “killable” target this go round. One can hope, at least.”

  • Nick says:

    Wow, Bill. Hilarious video, I had no idea LongWarJournal was switching over to the comedic format!!!!

  • Nick says:

    By the way, I thought this article is a great example of how modern day jihadi leaders are cowards. Sadr may be a Shia but he is just like the top AQ brass and other jihadi leaders who choose to remain in comfortable strongholds while their lower minions fight their political battles for them.

  • Steffen says:

    I’m wondering why Muqtada would make the show of returning to Najaf only to suffer the embarrasment of being forced back out? Did he simply miscalculate how AAH would react (a few death threats are all it takes these days?)? I have a feeling that Muqi may be eager to get back in the game, but that his Iranian hosts aren’t quite ready to give up their “suffocating hug”. We shouldn’t forget that Muqtada didn’t exactly head to Iran on vacation, he only made the ole Hijra after USF started making moves on him in Sadr City and Sistani suggested he vacate Najaf after the Shrine sit-in. Iran seems to have their very own Sadr shaped chess piece now. But why introduce a wild-card when you have so many other reliable surrogates (PDB, AAH, etc)?

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    He got lucky when the Marines were ordred to stand down, he should be cold and stiff. This is good, coz Sadr was Iran’s boy.

  • steve says:

    Great video Bill ! But, I keep wondering why these so called Jihadist won’t sacrifice Their lives for the cause but send weak minded teenagers and morons to blow them selfs up. My son is a grunt in the front lines and I give all I have to have him back but I would rather have him do his job and waste these dogs then have another attack on America. Semper Fi


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