Video: Iraqi Shiite Cleric Beheaded

Website shows beheading of Shiite Muslim (AP)

A website videotape surfaced Tuesday showing what was said to be the confession and beheading of an Arab Shiite Muslim, presumably Iraqi, who served the U.S. army by “assassinating Sunni leaders.” The video’s authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted in the name of Ansar al-Sunna Army on a website where such rebel content is often released. It showed a man, who identified himself as Al-Sayed Alaa al-Malki, kneeling in front of two masked gunmen. Two identification cards were visible hanging from the man’s grey shirt. On one of them, which bore al-Malki’s name and said “local sheik,” had a photograph that showed him wearing a black robe and a white turban similar to those worn by Shiite clerics.

Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 150 foreigners in their campaign to drive out coalition forces and hamper reconstruction, and some of them have been decapitated. Numerous Iraqis also have been killed on suspicion of co-operating with U.S.-led forces in Iraq, but Internet videos of beheadings generally have been of foreigners abducted to put pressure on governments to abandon the U.S.-led coalition or on companies to stop doing business with occupation authorities.

The bearded, heavyset man, his face bruised and dark circles beneath his eyes, spoke in a shaky voice of ties to a Shiite militia and to a former U.S. military commander in Iraq. Then, he was shown held down on his back, his face covered with a white sheet and his head being cut off. Afterward, the sheet was removed to again show the man’s face. In the video, the man, whose accent was Iraqi, said he was a follower of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said he “had close relationship with the Sadr army … and relations with political leaders such as the (Lt.-Gen. Ricardo) Sanchez.” Sanchez was replaced as head of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq on July 1 by Gen. George Casey. He remains commander of the U.S. army’s V corps, based in Germany. The video also showed the man confessing to working with an American military officer named Paul, with whom he established a “Citizens Claims Office” that was used as a cover “to collect and buy weapons from the street, and sell them to the American army.” A statement purportedly from Ansar al-Sunna Army that accompanied the gruesome video said al-Malki was killed because “he used the Citizens Claims Office as an underground tunnel — during his work with the American forces — to assassinate a number of Sunni leaders.”

I saw this earlier but thought it was just a redundant report. There are so many of these beheadings now that it’s getting hard to keep them straight. One would think the killing of a cleric from the Shiite majority would be a huge tactical blunder, but there has been little rhyme or reason to the patterns of these beheadings.

See The Jawa Report: New Beheading Video from Army of Ansar al-Sunnah: Shiite Follower of Muqtada al-Sadr Beheaded for ‘Working with US’ for photos and a link to the video.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. paladin says:

    You’d think there would be some blowback murdering a cleric, wouldn’t you? I just don’t get these people.

  2. zz says:

    There are some who want to start a civil war. Zarqawi is one of them.