ABU DHABI Ñ The United States has launched a crackdown on suspected
Shi'ite insurgency leaders.
U.S. troops arrested Ali Abdul Karim Al Madani and about a dozen aides
in the largest single arrest of Shi'ites since May. Al Madani is regarded as
a Shi'ite spiritual leader and has been a vociferous critic of the U.S.
presence in Iraq.
The Doha-based A-Jazeera satellite channel said Al Madani, eight sons
and aides were arrested on early Thursday in Diyala, 70 kilometers northeast
of Baghdad. The United States did not respond to the report of his arrest, Middle East Newsline reported.
Shi'ite leaders, including those organized by the United States to
oppose the regime of then-President Saddam Hussein, have charged that the
United States reneged on promises for self-rule. The leaders said the Bush
administration had pledged that after the ouster of Saddam the United States
would relay power to Iraqis.
Arab diplomatic sources in Baghdad said the United States wants to
demonstrate that it has not distinguished between Shi'ite and Sunni
in the military's crackdown against anti-U.S. forces in Iraq. The U.S.
military effort has focused solely on Sunni towns in northern Iraq believed
to be strongholds of loyalists to deposed President Saddam Hussein.
U.S. Central Command said on Thursday that the 4th Infantry Division
raided six targets and arrested 32 people in the previous 24 hours. The
command said U.S. troops seized four rocket-propelled grenades, firearms and
an undetermined amount of Iraqi currency. On Friday, a U.S. soldier was
killed and 10 others were injured in attacks north of Baghdad.
Shi'ite towns in Iraq have been relatively quiet amid the U.S.
counter-insurgency operations over the last month. The United States has
announced a $25 million reward for the capture of Saddam as well as another
$15 million for information that would lead to the arrest of either of his
two sons Uday and Qusay.