Thursday, February 22, 2007

US Going After Mahdi Army

Targeted Mahdi Members Sleep in Cars
Baghdad Update: US Database of Wanted Militamen
Posted 3 hr. 15 min. ago

The Mahdi Army are heavily targeted in many areas, Slogger eyewitnesses say.

Sources named Washash, Sadr City, Sha`ab, Shula, Hay Ur, Baghdad al-Jadida, Mashtal and others as focal points of raids against the Sadrist militia. In Zayyona and Palestine Street area, as well, raids are focused on Mahdi Army targets, Slogger sources say.

However, sources suggest that those captured are not highly important members of the organization.

In parts of Washash, near Mansour, the Americans and Iraqi troops have captured many Mahdi Army members, and it appears that US and government forces have the militia members’ names in a database. Eyewitnesses report that when the US or the Iraqis catch someone they check his name on a laptop.

Some of the Mahdi Army members are reportedly sleeping in their cars and moving around from area to area when to avoid raids.

The Americans and the Iraqi government are offering $1,500 to anyone who provides information about insurgents or the Mahdi Army, sources report. Sources were unable to confirm if any Iraqis had cashed in on the offer.

Armed militias in Shi`a areas, who used to show their weapons in the daylight with impunity, are not seen anymore, according to local sources.

Still, some people were killed or kidnapped in Shi`a areas, and some people reportedly think that the Mahdi Army is behind this. Even so, a source with links to the Baghdad morgue was told that the body counts had dropped from 300 to 50 weekly.

Yet, many people think the Mahdi Army are not the real targets of the security operations, and sources seem to share the expectation that the militia will come back after operations die down.

Iraqis inspect flash bang cartridges on Thursday, left by US and Iraqi troops as they raided overnight houses at Baghdad's impoverished district of Sadr City. Photo by Wissam al-Okaili/AFP.

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