Sadr Loyalists Reflect on Iraq Sovereignty - 11.19.2007

Video - Baghdad, Iraq - The Al-A’mel neighborhood has been wracked with as much violence and unrest as Baghdad’s roughest neighborhoods. The Sadr office in Al-A’mel has been an important source of stability and security for many residents of Al-A’mel.

As we’ve reported previously, the Sadr Movement, which is connected to Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army, has made a name for itself by providing aid and support to Iraqis living all over the country. The arrest of Sheikh Jassem lead to large demonstrations in the Al-A’mel neighborhood. These demonstrations targetted their anger not only at the US forces in Iraq, but also Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi government.

Because the Iraqi prime minister has claimed to have control over where, when, and how the US forces exert pressure on Iraqi dissidents, insurgents, and militias, the residents of Al-A’mel directed their frustration at his apparent apathy regarding Sheikh Jassem’s arrest.

Witnesses gave different accounts of the arrest. Although all claimed that the Sheikh was injured by being pushed from the roof of the mosque after being detained, some claimed this was done by a soldier from the United States, while others claimed it was a member of the Iraqi National Guard. At the time he was arrested, the US claimed that he was wanted in relation to a spate of kidnapping, murder, and torture in the area.

Residents told Alive in Baghdad that they were surprised by the charges, as he is well-liked in the community and has been involved with assisting Sunni as well as Shi’a families around Al-A’mel. Sheikh Jassem Al-Hasnawi has also received letters of thanks from prominent Sunnis, such as Dr. Al-Kubaisi, for his assistance in the construction of school buildings in the primarily Sunni Karkh region of Baghdad.

Until now Sheikh Jassem Al-Hasnawi has been held by the US forces, leading many Iraqis to question the truth of Prime Minister Maliki’s claims of Iraqi sovereignty. At the time of writing, it was unclear when Sheikh Jassem might be released, whether there was any truth to the claims of his injury, or whether he has been officially charged with any wrongdoing.

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