In an act of pure 7th-century diplomacy, Al-Sadr calls for British hostages to be seized, so that he can use them to buy back two of his top men, held in Basra by the British. From the TimesOnline, with thanks to Granny Weatherwax:
THE radical Shi”ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has authorised his militia to kidnap two Britons in Iraq in the hope of swapping them for two of his senior officials who are held in Basra by British forces.
A senior official from al-Sadr’s Mahdi army in Baghdad said that al-Sadr had given the order after last month’s dramatic rescue of two SAS men whom he had been hoping to use as bargaining chips.
The source said al-Sadr had given British authorities until yesterday to release his men, but they had failed to do so.
“In return for our two officials, two Britons will be taken,” the source said. The two need not necessarily be from the British military, but could be civilians, he added.
The source claimed that the Mahdi army had already pinpointed two British targets working for private security companies in the affluent Mansour district of Baghdad. Several British security firms have bases in the area.