Factions: Iraq's Mysterious Vigilante Killers

The dark blue Volvo sped toward the guard post near Najaf's Safi al-Safa shrine just as the muezzin began his evening call to prayers. Inside the car, three gunmen prepared to fire. Their targets were members of the Mahdi Army, a band of militants loyal to the firebrand Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has holed up in Najaf for the past month to avoid capture by the 2,500 U.S. soldiers surrounding the city. As the Volvo neared the tiny brick-and-reed building, a gunman in the car opened up with his AK-47, hitting one of al-Sadr's men. Mahdi Army members say they...

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