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Shia Militia Kidnaps Sunni Sheikh
Snatching Happens During Friday Prayers at Baghdad Mosque
By NIR ROSEN 12/24/2006 11:39 PM ET
Muqtada al Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, conducted a brazen raid on Friday, demonstrating that nothing is sacred any more in Iraq.

Whereas in the past Muqtada al Sadr's followers, who are Shia, conducted joint prayers with radical Sunnis to demonstrate their solidarity, mosques have now become ground zero of the civil war.

On Friday, December 22 Mahdi Army militia men raided the Abdullah Bin Omier mosque in the Binook area near the Sadrist stronghold of Al-Sha'ab in eastern Baghdad. The raid occurred during the important noon prayer, when a large congregation gathers to hear a sermon.

According to a militant sunni website fifty Mahdi Army militiamen raided the mosque while the sheikh was giving his sermon.

The website claims that all but four of the prayer goers managed to escape and that the sheikh and the Muadhin, or the man who calls people to prayer were both taken prisoner.

The Shia version of the story is that the Mahdi Army entered the mosque ten minutes before prayer time. They claim they ordered the Sunni prayer goers not to move and told them they had only come for their sheikh. One of the men praying had brought his pistol with him. He ran behind the pulpit and opened fire. There was an exchange of fire that lasted until the Mahdi Army men ran out of bullets. The Mahdi army men then captured him, the sheikh and the Muadhin.

Regardless of which version is accurate, speculation in Baghdad is their bodies will probably be found in Al-Sadda, the area on the outskirts of Sadr city where the Mahdi army most often dumps the corpses of executed Sunnis.


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