Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: One of America's greatest adversaries during the recently-ended occupation has decided that releasing an American hostage was a good way to improve the public image of Islam, which he apparently considers tarnished by recent history.
The Promised Day Brigade, a militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, released
a former U.S. soldier today after holding him hostage for
nine months. Maha al-Douri, a member of the National Assembly for the Sadrist movement,
said that Michaels had been released under the direction of Muqtada al-Sadr without
any form of compensation as a gift to the family and friends of the soldier and
as a way of rectifying the public image of Islam. National Assembly Deputy Speaker
Qusay al-Souhail said, “The Promised Day Brigade command had taken the decision
to release the prisoner in light of confirmation that U.S. forces had withdrawn
The U.N. mission in Baghdad confirmed that al-Souhail and al-Douri had
taken custody of the American citizen to be returned to the U.S. Embassy. The
man who identified as Randy Michaels wore an unadorned U.S. Army uniform that had
no indication of rank. Standing alongside him were two National Assembly
members of the Sadrist Movement, which included Deputy Speaker Qusay al-Souhail.
The former soldier was handed over to the U.N. mission in Baghdad which
transferred him to the American Embassy. Washington has confirmed that he is an
American citizen, but released no further details. Michaels made a quick
statement to Iraqi reporters who rushed to witness his release, saying that he had
been deployed to Iraq in 2003, serving as a soldier for 15 months. He said that
after his release from duty, he remained in Iraq until June 2011, when he taken
hostage by members of the Promised Day Brigade.
to The New York Times, “Officials
at the United States Embassy were scrambling to understand what had happened.
They said they had no records of any American citizen still considered missing
in Iraq, and some learned of his resurfacing from news reports.”]