Responding to previous reports about al-Qaeda influence in the Awakening Council forces, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that intelligence reports had confirmed that not only was that the case, but that remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist Party had also infiltrated the group.
The nearly-100,000 strong US-backed Sunni group has found itself under increased scrutiny in recent days, as a protest earlier in the month turned into a brief uprising, and a harsh crackdown by the Shi’ite-majority government forces. With a growing number of reports sparking fear of a renewed civil war, a US warplane attacked a group of the militia’s members last night, killing one.
When the US handed control of the militia over to the Iraqi government, it was under the condition that they would be integrated into the nation’s security forces. Besides falling behind in that pledge, the government has been increasingly targeting the faction’s leaders for arrests. One such leader was released yesterday after 10 days being held by an unknown branch of the government. A court dismissed the charges against him.