Strange… On Wednesday, two senior commanders from the Mahdi Army Shiite militia identified Qais al-Khazaali , a former Al-Sadr spokesman, as the leader of up to 3,000 fighters who defected from the Mahdi Army militia and were now financed directly by Iran and no longer loyal to firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Qais al-Khazaali and his brother Laith Khazaali were arrested Wednesday for killing 5 US soldiers in January. The killers who are connected to Al-Sadr, “traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles (the type used by U.S. government convoys), had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues, and spoke English.”
But, on Friday protesters in Kuna, Iraq and loyal to Al-Sadr, protested for the release of the Khazaali brothers and others arrested earlier in the week.
If there was a “split” as reported, why are Al-Sadr loyalists protesting for the release of the “defectors”?
Demonstrators hold a poster of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during a protest in Kufa, about 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, March 23, 2007. Hundreds of Shi’ites took to the streets after Friday prayers to demand the release of prisoners being held by U.S. forces. The writing on the poster reads “God, stand by Moqtada”. (REUTERS/Ali Abu Shish)
MEMRI Blog also reported that Al-Sadr’s Mahdi army has fractured:
The Jaysh Al-Mahdi militia of the Shi’ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr has split.
According to a militia spokesman, 3,000 members are being financed directly by Iran. It was also reported that elements of this splinter group are being trained by Al-Quds Forces, which also train Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Qais Khazaali and his followers were carrying the ID cards of the 5 murdered American soldiers when they were arrested on Wednesday.
Blonde English-Speaking Terrorists Operating in Iraq
English Speaking Al Sadr Spokesman Arrested For Killing 5 US Soldiers
Arrested Former Al-Sadr Spokesman Qais Khazaali Trained in Iran