The recent clashes between coalition forces and followers of the young Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, come as no surprise to those who have closely followed events in Iraq since the removal of Saddam Hussein. Sadr, considered to be a rebellious, recalcitrant Shiite leader, has often criticized the US presence in Iraq, referring to America as the “big Satan”. Subsequently, he also acted to torpedo any political initiative proposed by the US. In addition, Sadr has undermined, with the backing of radical Iranian elements, the traditional and moderate Shiite leadership in Iraq (al-Marjaia), headed by Ayatollah Sistani.
The web site of Iraqi Islamic underground organization al-Jama’a al-Salafia al-Mujahada recently called on the group’s fighters to focus on propaganda acts in addition to the armed activity against allied forces in Iraq. To that end, the web site also outlined a series of objectives and directives to be followed.
On 28 August, Al-Jazeera’s web site reported that Italian forces in Iraq had arrested the passengers of a vehicle carrying a load of weapons and hand grenades in the city of al-Nasseria.