BAGHDAD (AFP) – American forces have arrested an anti-Qaeda leader working alongside them for allegedly making threats against local residents, the US military said.
The Sons of Iraq, or Sahwa (Awakening), leader was among five people arrested in the Rashid neighbourhood of Baghdad on Friday, the military said in a statement. It did not identify the man.
“After receiving a tip from a concerned Iraqi citizen… troops arrested a Sons of Iraq leader for making threats toward local community members,” the statement said.
“The patrol returned to a coalition forces combat outpost with the detainee for further processing.”
Sahwa members are mostly former Sunni insurgents who fought US and Iraqi forces after dictator Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, but who since late 2006 have helped curb violence by siding with the Americans to battle Al-Qaeda.
The Americans began transferring the authority over the 100,000-strong Sahwas to the Baghdad government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from the beginning of this month.
When the Sahwa movement began gathering force in 2007, Maliki and other government ministers had expressed concern that the fighters could one day form dangerous militia groups and turn their weapons against Shiites.
Baghdad has said 20 percent of the Sahwas would be absorbed into the country’s security forces and that most of the rest would be considered for civilian jobs.