Shiite leader captured

American armed forces arrested radical Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr, reported the leader's close assistant Hasem Al-Araadge, Chief of Baghdad bureau “Mahdi army”. Al-Arradge was also arrested by the Americans. Both are currently held in the “Palestine” hotel in Baghdad.

The leader of Shiite opposition Muqtada Al-Sadr proposed Jihad to the coalition army. Starting November 2003 until March 2004, his militants have ambushed coalition forces several dozen times.

On March 28 2004, American officials shut down the headquarters of the daily newspaper “Al-Havsa,” the main periodical of Shiites. At first, Americans issued a warrant to arrest Muqtada Al-Sadr and his closest personal assistant Mustafa Al–Yakubi. Both of them appeared suspects in a murder of Abdula Madjija Al-Hoi in April 2003. Al-Yakubi was arrested on April 3 2004. Al-Sadr in turn called for an armed resistance against Americans.

At least 45 American soldiers and five members of the coalition forces have died during the first week of fighting “the big Shiite war” (3-9 April). The fighting took place in Najaf, Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, Mosul and other towns. Dozens of soldiers were wounded. According to various sources, 5-15 foreigners were taken hostages. Nearly 500 dead and more than 100 wounded were on the Iraqi side.

Arseny Rudnev

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