Moqtada al-Sadr (also spelled Moktada al-Sadr and Muqtada al-Sadr) is a 32-year old "Shiite cleric from a poor neighborhood of Baghdad who has long opposed the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He draws much of his popularity from the reverence many Iraqi Shiites feel toward his father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq Sadr, who was assassinated in 1999, allegedly by Saddam Hussein loyalists." 
"After U.S. troops shut down Sadr's weekly newspaper on March 28  for publishing inflammatory articles about the U.S. occupation, Sadr unleashed demonstrations and armed strikes against the U.S. occupation authority. In the ensuing fighting, dozens of U.S. soldiers and scores of Iraqis were killed."  
"Six months [earlier], Iraqi law enforcement concluded that Sadr was involved in the April 2003 killing of a rival cleric, who was hacked to death by a mob in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. After the uprising began, the U.S. announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Sadr last fall."  
Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was profiled April 5, 2004 by Mark Oliver in the Guardian Unlimited (UK). Oliver wrote that the "30-year-old firebrand Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is known to his followers as 'al-Sayed', or 'master'. Coalition officials speak of him with less reverence.
- "Sadr's father, a religious leader, was shot dead in 1999, allegedly by Saddam Hussein's henchmen, but he has little affection for the US-led coalition who deposed the dictator, and he is virulently against the occupation.
- "Today Sadr was effectively branded an outlaw by Paul Bremer, the top US official in Iraq, after being blamed for provoking the wave of violence yesterday in four Iraqi cities that left around 50 Iraqis and nine coalition soldiers dead. [See Shiite Muslim uprising in Iraq for details.]
- "The violence erupted out of demonstrations called for by Sadr after one of his aides was arrested on Saturday. The protests were also couched in annoyance that Sadr's newspaper was closed down on March 28 amid claims it was inciting violence.
- "Sadr has in the past claimed to have a 10,000-strong militia and yesterday reports suggested there were some 5,000 black-shirted men marching near Najaf, which is 100 miles south of Baghdad.
- "Sadr's headquarters are in Najaf and the armed wing of his organisation, the Mehdi Army, has been playing an increasingly high-profile role there and in Baghdad and Kerbala. ...
- "But it is important not to overstate his influence. Many Shia are opposed to the idea of militancy when they are likely to get a great deal of power anyway in coalition-backed elections.
- "Few Shia Muslims are in a mood to approve the idea of an armed confrontation with the highly respected Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, who is the most powerful Shia leader in Iraq, and who is, for the most part, engaging with the coalition timetable for elections.
- "The Mehdi Army also damaged its popularity in some quarters after clashes last October  with other Shia factions.
- "At around the same time, Shia militants clashed for the first time with US troops in Baghdad. At that time the coalition was relieved that Sadr did not call for an armed struggle directly. But his statement was clear about wanting the troops out. 'I advise these occupying forces to schedule their prompt withdrawal from Iraq,' Sadr said.
- "What he wants is a government which would respect Sharia, or Islamic, law. His opinions on how it might be formed, can vary. ... Last year he spoke of having a government with ministers but then changed this to one that emerged 'from the people', not through elections but 'mass demonstrations'. ...
- "The Shia are the powerful Muslim majority in Iraq and they have largely avoided violence with the Americans. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim and the Shia were suppressed under his regime. The occupying forces already have a serious security problem with Sunni insurgents and will not relish the prospect of any increasing Shia militancy."
Note: It is worth remembering that 'Syed' is the standard term of address for a person who is directly descended from the Prophet. ... Also, although the media fail to grasp this fact, Moqtada is not a cleric but a student. He has not finished his studies at the Hawza.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- civil war in Iraq
- Coalition Provisional Authority
- Exit Strategy from Iraq
- Global insurgency for change
- Iraqi insurgency
- Iraqi unified resistance
- McCain doctrine
- New Iraq / post-war Iraq
- Occupation forces in Iraq
- Operation Iraqi Freedom: Year Five
- Shiite Muslim uprising in Iraq
- Shiite Muslim uprising in Iraq: Iran Proxy War?
- violence in the Middle East
- Glenn Frankel and Nora Boustany, "Mob Kills 2 Clerics At Shiite Shrine. Identity, Motives of Assailants Unknown," Washington Post, April 11, 2003.
- Anthony Shadid, "An Iraqi Call: Get on the Bus. Weekly Pilgrimage Mixes Politics, Piety," Washington Post, October 31, 2003.
- Nir Rosen, "Muqtada's powerful push for prominence," Asia Times, March 18, 2004.
- Nir Rosen, "US newspaper ban plays into cleric's hands," Asia Times, March 31, 2004.
- Nir Rosen, "Muqtada's Shi'ites raise the stakes," Asia Times, April 6, 2004.
- Rory McCarthy, "Son of the Hidden Imam preaches rebellion to his army of men in black," Guardian/UK, April 6, 2004.
- Michael Rubin, "Learning from Sadr," National Review, April 8, 2004.
- Steven Vincent, "The Ungovernable Shiites. It's their tradition," National Review, April 8, 2004.
- Ewen MacAskill, "Army of the dispossessed rallies to Mahdi" Guardian Unlimited (UK), April 8, 2004.
- Charles Recknagel, "Symbol of insurgency," Asia Times, April 9, 2004.
- Nimrod Raphaeli, "Muqtada Al-Sadr Not Supported by Other Iraqi Leaders," MEMRI, April 9, 2004.
- Dan Murphy, "Sadr the agitator: like father, like son," Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2004.
- "Who Is Moqtada Sadr?" Washington Post, August 16, 2004.
- Jonathan Feiser, "Moqtada al-Sadr: Islamic Revolutionary or Political Catalyst?", Power and Interest News Report, August 26, 2004.
- Phillip Robertson, "City of vengeance," Salon, July 12, 2006: "A savage outbreak of retaliatory killings has pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. In the first of three exclusive reports, our correspondent investigates the Mahdi Army's Baghdad death squads." Subscription or free preview required.
- Jeffrey Bartholet, "Sword of the Shia. He can deal out death through his black-clad followers and roil the government any time he chooses. Why Moqtada al-Sadr may end up deciding America's fate in Iraq," Newsweek, December 4, 2006 (issue).
- Edward Wong, "Iraqis Consider Ways to Reduce Power of Cleric," New York Times, December 12, 2006.
- Babak Rahimi, "Shi'ite power bloc in Iraq takes shape," Asia Times, April 4, 2007.
- Sami Moubayed, "Muqtada raises the stakes in Iraq," Asia Times, April 11, 2007.
- Dilip Hiro, "Sadr's Rising Star to Eclipse Bush's Surge? Nightmare Scenarios for the Bush Administration," TomDispatch.com (also posted by ZNet), April 15, 2007 (Introduction by Tom Engelhardt); Antiwar.com, April 16, 2007; Asia Times, April 17, 2007.
- Tina Susman, "Al-Maliki faces revolt over timetable dispute," Los Angeles Times (San Francisco Chronicle), April 16, 2007.
- Edward Wong and Graham Bowley, "Influential Shiite cleric orders allies to quit Iraqi cabinet," International Herald Tribune, April 16, 2007.
- "Al-Sadr's Followers Quit Iraq Cabinet. Followers Of Radical Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr Quit Cabinet, Dealing Blow To Iraqi Premier," Associated Press (CBS News), April 16, 2007.
- "FACTBOX: Five facts about Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr," Reuters, April 16, 2007.
- "Iraqi PM welcomes Sadr pull out," ABC News (Australia), April 17, 2007.