U.S. Military Detains Iranian Delegates in Baghdad
The Scoop from Key Arabic-Language Web Sites
By ZEYAD Al-Melaf
Reports that U.S. troops have detained the members of a Shiite delegation visiting parliament minister Sheikh Jalal Al-Din Al-Sagheer at his home in Baghdad.
The delegation included two Iranian nationals, Abdul Zahra Al-Daghiri, a cleric from Iran's Arab Khuzestan province, and Ahmed Frauzenda (Forouzandeh in Persian).
Al-Daghiri entered Iraq after 2003 and joined the Shaheed Al-Mihrab Foundation, headed by the son of Aziz Al-Hakim, head of the largest Shia bloc in Iraqi parliament.
Al-Sagheer's office issued a press release calling claims made by U.S. troops at Camp Victory as "false." The U.S. statement said that the Buratha Mosque, raided two days ago by Iraqi troops, was harboring militias and was used as a weapons storage. Al-Sagheer denied that the mosque was raided by Iraqi troops, explaining that it was an Iraqi Special Forces battalion under direct U.S. command, and not Iraqi governmental troops that are part of the Defense and Interior ministries.
It also denied that the mosque contains torture chambers, as "terrorists" have claimed, or that militias have used it to stage attacks against other areas. The statement added that all weapons and ammunitions confiscated by U.S. troops from the mosque were registered as property of the Interior Ministry, and that the guards were also employees of the Defense and Interior ministries.
Al-Melaf also published the findings of a recent survey in Najaf revealing that 75 percent of the city's residents will not participate in any upcoming elections in Iraq, citing widespread corruption among current elected officials and a failure to improve services and respond to the needs of the community.
Other reasons included the struggle for political power between different Islamic movements in the city and the evident overnight rise in the wealth of elected officials. The source added that the report was sent to the leaders of several Shi'ite political parties.
Hundreds of young men have signed up to carry out "martyrdom operations" against U.S. troops if there is an attempt to detain or move against Muqtada Al-Sadr, according to unnamed sources in the Hawza of Najaf, the Sadrist Nahrain Net website reports.
The sources stated that not all volunteers are Sadrists or members of the Mahdi Army but come from various Shi'ite movements and follow different clerics, and many of them have been seeking legal permission from their clerics to carry out "martyrdom operations" against U.S. troops.
The sources, which added that this phenomenon was registered in Najaf, Karbala and other southern cities, did not divulge if this was spontaneous or an organized effort to counter any American action against Sadr or the Mahdi Army.
And in regard to Sadr's whereabouts, a senior Mahdi Army commander stated that Sadr would be returning to Iraqi within days, and that any attempt to detain him would be an "uncalculated risk aiming to escalate the situation in Iraq and to end the political process."
He added that although Muqtada Sadr had ordered his followers to exercise restraint and not to respond to provocative actions by U.S. and Iraqi troops, his arrest would "inflame the emotions of millions of his followers resulting in an uncontrollable situation."
The Ansar Al-Sunnah insurgent group published an Internet statement today calling on Iraqi Sunnis not to abandon their homes in Baghdad during the U.S. security operation.
"To our people in Baghdad," the statement reads, "Do not leave your homes and your Baghdad, because if you do, it means that you have given up Baghdad for the rejectionists (Shia)."
The statement, which was signed by the Diwan Al-Jund of the Ansar Al-Sunnah, said that the group is planning its response to the operation. "We will confront, with great wisdom, the large numbers of Crusader troops and their lackeys of apostate rejectionists and Peshmerga on the streets of Baghdad, by gradually exhausting them, now that we have forced them to take to the streets and expose themselves for us."
Islam Memo had also reported that "resistance groups" in Baghdad had announced the "zero hour" for its counterattack against U.S. and Iraqi troops in the capital in response to the security operation in several Sunni districts south of Baghdad.
Eye on Iraq Media Agency reports that Iraqi security forces arrested 26 suspected members of the Jund Al-Samaa' movement at a small village north of Kut, in the Wasit Governorate, according to a source in the governorate's police command.
Meanwhile SCIRI's Buratha News Agency reported that the Interior Ministry's Scorpion Brigade in the Babel Governorate, south of Baghdad, arrested 35 suspected members of Jund Al-Samaa' during raids on several districts of Hilla, according to police sources.
The Sunni fundamentalist Islam Memo website denied U.S. reports yesterday of the injury of Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir (identified as Abu Ayoub Al-Masri by the Iraqi Interior Ministry) and the killing of Abdullah Al-Mujama'I, one of his senior aides.
The website quoted an "official from the Islamic Emirate of Iraq" in Balad who compared these reports to the rumors he said U.S. troops had spread during the Fallujah battles in 2004 to demoralize "the resistance," adding that they can't even get the name of their leader right.