Mahdi Army

The Mahdi Army, also known as the Mahdi Militia or Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) (Arabic جيش المهدي), was an Iraqi paramilitary force created by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in June 2003.

The group rose to international prominence on April 18, 2004 when it spearheaded the first major armed confrontation against the U.S.-led forces in Iraq from the Shia community in an uprising that followed the banning of al-Sadr's newspaper and attempts to arrest him, and lasted until a truce on June 6. This truce was followed by moves to disband the group and transform al-Sadr's movement into a political party to take part in the 2005 elections; Muqtada al-Sadr ordered fighters of the Mahdi army to cease fire unless attacked first. The truce broke down in August 2004 after provocative actions by the Mahdi Army, with new hostilities erupting.

The Mahdi Army's popularity has been strong enough to influence local government, the police, and cooperation with Sunni Iraqis and their supporters. The group is believed to have recently been popular among Iraqi police forces. National Independent Cadres and Elites party that ran in the 2005 Iraqi election was closely linked with the army.

The group is armed with various light weapons, including improvised explosive devices, also called road-side bombs. Many of the bombs used during attacks on Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces have used infra-red sensors as triggers, a technique that was used widely by the IRA in Northern Ireland in the early-to-mid 1990s.

Read more about Mahdi Army:  Name, Iran's Influence, Activities, Structure

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... of Baghdad still remaining in al-Qaeda hands and the whole of Sadr City still under Mahdi Army control ... heavy fighting erupted in Karbala between the Mahdi Army and policemen who were members of the rival Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council ... that Sadr declared a unilateral cease-fire to be implemented by all branches and elements of the Mahdi Army ...
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... Coalition troops not being able to push deeper into Sadr City and the Mahdi Army not being able to expel the troops from the district ... By May 21, 2008, Iraqi Army Units had secured or captured all of Sadr City, receiving little resistance as the 10,000 man force backed by tanks rolled past barricades and into the center of the ... However, Mahdi Army fighters remained in Sadr City, blended in the civilian population, with their weapons ...

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