By Sam Dagher (CSM)
Tue Dec 11,Karbala, Iraq - For more than three months, the Mahdi Army has been largely silent. The potent, black-clad Iraqi Shiite force put down its guns in late August at the behest of Moqtada al-Sadr.
The move has bolstered improved security in Baghdad, even though the US says some Mahdi Army splinter groups that it calls "criminals" or "extremists" have not heeded Mr. Sadr's freeze.
Away from public view, however, Sadr's top aides say the anti-American cleric is anything but idle. Instead, he is orchestrating a revival among his army of loyalists entrenched in Baghdad and Shiite enclaves to the south – from the religious centers of Karbala and Najaf to the economic hub of Basra. What is in the making, they say, is a better-trained and leaner force free of rogue elements accused of atrocities and crimes during the height of the sectarian war last year.
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