Iraqi Judge Issues Arrest Warrant for Moqtada al Sadr

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", April 5, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY PAUL BREMER: An Iraqi judge has issued an arrest warrant for Moqtada al Sadr (search). And that is based on evidence that connects Moqtada al Sadr to the brutal murder of Mr. Khoei.


BRIT HUME, HOST: One thing American officials have always feared in Iraq is that the Shiite majority would turn against the occupation and against a movement toward democracy. The question today is whether the uprising between Moqtada al Sadr and his followers is the first sign of that, and whether his threatened arrest might make things worse.

For answers to the questions, we turn to Fox News contributor and retired air Force General Tom McInerney, co-author of a new book, "Endgame, A Strategy for Ending the War on Terror." "A Blueprint," I should say, "for Ending the War on Terror."

Nice to see you, General.

GEN. THOMAS MCINERNEY (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: Good to see you, Brit.

HUME: What about this Sadr situation? Is that a general uprising of the Shiia likely to grow out of this, in your judgment?

MCINERNEY: No, it isn't. It is an isolated event with al Sadr. He has been a troublemaker all along. He believes in the Islamic state religion, and the state being one. Most of the Shiias do not believe that.

Sistani, the majority leader there, believes in separation of state and religion. He finally -- al Sadr finally is stepping forward. I think he got word of the warrant for his arrest...

HUME: Now, apparently the warrant was several months old in regard to a murder down in Najaf (search) that you caused a stir about a year ago, right?

MCINERNEY: Yes. I think what he got -- he got the word of it, and that's why he is cranking up. He is taking advantage of the little problem we have up in Fallujah, and the Marines are handling that very well.

So it is not a general uprising. It is not a two-front war. But they are very important events, and how we handle them that will lead to the transition of 30 June.

HUME: Can we be confidant that if he is in fact arrested that that won't alienate -- might cause further alienation among the Shiia population?

MCINERNEY: It's going to cause some further alienation. I believe there is going to be a tough fight to get him, unless he comes in willingly. I think then we'll have to have some -- a very fierce firefight. The fact is we will win. We have the firepower, and if he elects to do that.

HUME: Now, this guy is 30 years old. He is the son -- I guess he comes from a long line of Shiite clerics.

Question, he seems to have some influence for a man of his tender years. Where is his support coming from, and where is it his money, if he has money, come from? Do you know?

MCINERNEY: Well, let's talk about the money, because that's critical. The money is coming from Iran. It's coming from Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which is important, as well as Hezbollah.

Now, this hasn't been publicized very much, but these are the facts. His support is coming from Iran.

HUME: Just you know this because of the intelligence that you are privy to.

MCINERNEY: Yes. Yes. This is very good intelligence that I just got before I came down. It's what I had talked about earlier this morning. I re-verified it again.

And this is a very important fact, Iran has got its hand in the cookie jar, and we ought to challenge them on it.

Now, he -- his following is primarily from his father, the Grand Ayatollah al Sadr.

HUME: Saddam took care of him some years ago.

MCINERNEY: Saddam took care of him. And the fact is that's why he has this -- it's a rather small -- I mean he has got an army of 10,000, which isn't small. But it's a militia. And I think we are going to have to come to grips with that, and we will do that, and we'll do it very professionally.

So when you look at both things, I think he decided to make his move now because he knows he is going to be arrested for a murder warrant, and so now he is trying to make a fight.

HUME: In Fallujah, the Marines have surrounded the town.


HUME: What? About 1,000 Marines, something like that?

MCINERNEY: We have got roughly a brigade. Two battalions of Marines, and two battalions of Iraqis.

HUME: Which is how many people in total?

MCINERNEY: It's about 1,000.

HUME: Is that enough to do the job?

MCINERNEY: Yes. It's a little more than 1,000, and it is because we're using electronic assets to help us. We have got Predator drones overhead. We have got helicopters overhead. We've got infrared, so every highway going in and out is going to be detected. We've got Joint Stars out there looking at any moving traffic.

And then the Marines will move very quickly to the site of where anything moves in or out. So the lockdown, as I call it, is insuring that nothing goes in or out unless we know what it is.

HUME: All right. What about the actual job, though, of rooting out, getting to the -- to those that cause this terrible trouble up there?

MCINERNEY: You have got a town of about 300,000. We've got a small number of former regime loyalists, because the 82 did a pretty good job. They had some fighting up there, but they did a pretty good job.

And you have got foreigners, the Jihadists up there. Now, the community, the city is helping us point out where they are. And so we'll go into certain areas. We'll isolate them. And there will be firefights because you know these guys are going to fight to the death.

And once that's completed, then we'll rebuild that area, and we'll do it very quickly. The Marines...

HUME: How much destruction, do you imagine, will have to be done in order to accomplish this mission?

MCINERNEY: Well, it really depends, Brit. I couldn't give you precise -- I don't think it will be a lot, when you consider the size of the city, but there will be destruction. And the fact is, hopefully there will be no innocents killed, but you know you always get some. But when you are talking to people, I think you are talking less than 100 people, maybe 200 people.

HUME: In all that we're going after?

MCINERNEY: Yes. I don't believe -- we're not talking thousands up there. I believe these cells are rather small numbers, and with the outward number would be upwards of 200 at the most.

HUME: Can we be confident, after this mission goes forward, if it succeeds that Fallujah will basically be pacified?

MCINERNEY: I think -- and here is the real rub that I have had a problem with it in the administration ways. We have not kicked into reconstruction dollars. I believe if we tell the sheikhs, we tell the business leaders we've got construction dollars coming in, significant, and you Fallujah, will be part of it, that they will go with this.

In other words, money talks. We have not yet talked about that money, and there are too many people that are unemployed.

HUME: General, thank you very much.

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