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Tea and kidnapping - behind the lines of a civil war

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 08:40 AM
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Tea and kidnapping - behind the lines of a civil war
A few minutes later, the headlights come into view again. The car has turned and is driving back towards the highway. This time, another car appears from a side street almost hitting the first a few metres from Husham.

As the vigilantes look on, a man approaches and points a pistol at the driver. He and two other men drag the "strangers" from their car and take them to the other vehicle, then speed away.

A few curious residents have gathered to watch but this is a familiar scene on the streets of Baghdad, where strangers are regularly snatched from their cars if they pass through the "wrong" area carrying the "wrong" ID cards. "Its OK, its OK. We will just check their IDs and take the measures," says one of the men, by way of reassurance. But three hours later the strangers have not returned. Few locals would bet on their survival.

...

"I have men everywhere," he says, "ready for any attack from them." In Abu Karar's world, them means Sunni insurgents. The structure of the Jaish el-Mahdi (the Mahdi army) differs from the militia that fought the US and British two years ago. The mainstream Mahdi militia has become much more organised and complicated. At the same time, there is evidence that some commanders are working independently. With the average ransom for a hostage around $5,000 (2,635) and sometimes up to $20,000, running a militia in Iraq these days can be a very lucrative business. But Abu Karar dismisses suggestions that his men are involved in death squads. "We are defending our people. If the Sunnis come from an area to attack us, we go and attack them. They have started this fight." The mainstream Mahdi militia is organised around the Martyr al-Sadr offices, scattered around Baghdad and holding more authority, in some areas, than the government. Each office is led by a cleric appointed from Najaf, were Moqtada is based. The offices command their own militia units called Ameriyah or HQ, and the units are divided into smaller groups.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1933865,00.html


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