U.S. releases al-Sadr aide at request of Iraqi leader

WORLD DIGEST

March 22, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

Baghdad, Iraq -- The U.S. military released a senior member of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's movement yesterday at the request of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The decision, officials said, was made with the hope of easing tensions between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

Sheik Ahmed Shibani, who had been in prison for 2 1/2 years, was handed over to the office of the Shiite prime minister. "In consultation with the prime minister and following his request, coalition leaders determined that Sheik Shibani, who was detained since 2004, could play a potentially important role in helping to moderate extremism and foster reconciliation in Iraq," Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said in a statement.

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