Musleh is the head of ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ (PMF) in Anbar province. The PMF is a government-approved group, formed in 2014 to defeat the Islamic State group.
Qasim Mehmood Musleh (File Photo)
Tensions have increased after the arrest of a militia commander accused of terrorism in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. After the arrest of Qassim Mahmoud Musleh in Baghdad, a situation of dangerous confrontation has arisen between the paramilitary supporters and the Iraqi government. The Iraqi military said in a statement that Iraqi security forces arrested Musleh early Wednesday after a judicial investigation into terrorism charges and then an arrest warrant issued. The statement said that Musleh was being interrogated by the Joint Investigation Committee.
Musleh is the head of ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ (PMF) in Anbar province. The PMF is a government-sanctioned group formed in 2014 to defeat the Islamic State group. The most powerful people in this group are Iraq-backed Shia Milia groups. Immediately after the arrest, forces affiliated with the PMF were deployed around the headquarters of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The PMF’s offices are in the highly guarded Green Zone. Embassies of many countries are also located in the Green Zone.
Armed PMF factions gathered near government offices
Tensions escalated when Iraqi security forces and counter-terrorism service personnel were deployed to protect government and diplomatic missions, raising fears of violence. Some armed PMF factions gathered around the main gate of the Green Zone. Some senior Iraqi officials say the PMF’s presence outside government offices is a way to pressure al-Qadimi to release Musleh. The statement said that the Prime Minister termed this display of power a serious violation of the Iraqi constitution and laws and ordered an inquiry into the matter.
Musleh is facing charges of corruption and killing of human rights activist
Al-Qadimi held a meeting with senior Shia leaders. The Prime Minister also constituted an inquiry committee. In this committee, apart from officials of defense and home ministries, the officials of PMF Security and National Security have been included. An Iraqi intelligence official said Musleh’s arrest was recommended by an anti-corruption committee headed by Lieutenant General Ahmed Abu Raghif and was based on judicial orders. Musleh is accused of being involved in the murder of an Iraqi human rights activist in Karbala with allegations of corruption. Protests are taking place in Baghdad to protest against this murder.
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