U.S. and Iraqi special forces on Sunday detained two officials of the Mahdi Army for allegedly committing murder and other criminal acts following Muqtada al-Sadr’s pronouncements to cease such activity, according to a U.S. military news release.
The arrests were made in the New Baghdad district in the eastern part of the city. The two men were not named in the release by Multi-National Corps–Iraq.
No Iraqi or U.S. forces were injured in the raid, though they did kill a man “who exhibited hostile intent with an AK-47 assault rifle,” the release stated.
One of the detained men, director of the Habibiyah office, is believed to be the commander of three extremist companies and leader of a group of about 50 terrorist cell members, the Army said.
The man is suspected of supplying weapons, including a truckload of Katyusha rockets, to terrorists, and conducting multiple mortar and improvised explosive device attacks against coalition forces, according to the release.
Last month, his group reportedly killed 20 local citizens. In a separate attack on a residential compound last month, his group allegedly robbed residents of their money and valuables, and raped five young girls, the release said.
The other detained individual, head of the political department in the Habibiyah office, is believed to lead a 10-person terrorist cell responsible for terrorizing local citizens and attacking Iraqi and U.S. forces.
In a terrorist attack on a civilian neighborhood last summer, his cell allegedly evicted residents, stole their money and occupied their homes. The U.S. military said the attack resulted in the deaths of seven civilians who refused to leave their homes.
The accused cell leader is also believed to use corrupt Iraqi police members to facilitate the shipment of weapons to terrorists. His cell is also thought to be responsible for bomb and Katyusha rocket attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.