The people of Kufa were visibly upset after Friday prayers. Several residents took to the streets to protest for the release of Sadr’s Former aide, Qais al-Khazaali, arrested for the murder of 5 US soldiers.
Shiite women carry a poster showing anti-US radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as they protest against the arrest of an al-Sadr aide, in the holy city of Kufa, Iraq, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Friday, March 23, 2007. The U.S. military on Thursday said a Shiite cleric Qais al-Khazaali has been arrested in connection with a brazen attack on the provincial government of Karbala, also south of Baghdad, Jan. 20 when five American service members were killed. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)
ADN Kronos reported that Nouri Al-Maliki ordered a hit on Moqtada al-Sadr and that the he narrwoly escaped:
Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr narrowly avoided an assassination attempt in recent days in Kufa, south of Baghdad, according to Iraqi deputy Biha al-Araji.
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He told Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi that elements linked to the government of Nouri al-Malkiki were behind the plot.
The plan reportedly involved the killing of al-Sadr on Friday while he was preaching inside the Kufa mosque. Once the plot was uncovered though, he decided not to attend the mosque that day. Al-Araji, a member of al-Sadr’s political faction, denied reports that the firebrand cleric had fled abroad to escape the Baghdad security clampdown. “I took part in a meeting of the leadership of the Sadrist faction several days ago and all the leaders were there” he was quoted as saying.
Earlier on Tuesday…
According to Reuters: “U.S. forces raided the home of Mohammed al-Tabtabayi (al-Tabatabaie), an aide to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but he was not there at the time. His brother was detained, police said.”