In an interview, "Abu Sajjad," a military commander in the Ansar Al-Imam Al-Mahdi movement in Iraq, tells how he used to be a follower of Sayyid Muhammad Sadeq Al-Sadr but was persuaded by an Iraqi whom he met when he was "in a neighboring country" that the Mahdi, the Shi'ite Messiah, had appeared, as proven by TV cartoons.
Following are excerpts from the interview, which aired on Al-Iraqiya TV on February 25, 2008.
To view this clip, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/1724.
He Asked Me, "How Long Will You Continue to Worship Idols?"
Interviewer: What was your position in the movement?
"Abu Sajjad": "I was one of the military commanders in Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan's movement, also known as the Ansar Al-Imam Al-Mahdi movement."
Interviewer: "You were a military commander?"
"Abu Sajjad": "That's right."
Interviewer: "How did they get you to join the movement?"
"Abu Sajjad": "One day, six or seven months ago, I was in a neighboring country, and I met somebody from Iraq.
"Eventually, he asked me: 'Whose religious authority do you follow?' I said I was a follower of Sayyid Muhammad Sadeq Al-Sadr. He said something very strange, which caught my attention: 'How long will you continue to worship idols?' It was strange to hear such a thing from an Iraqi and a Shi'ite. So I asked: 'What do you mean by idols? Explain, so I can understand.' He said: 'You have all been asleep until now. Who is Al-Sistani? Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr? The son of the Imam Al-Mahdi has appeared and is with us now. He is the Remnant of Allah on Earth. He is the successor of the Imam Al-Mahdi, and you all must follow him.'
"He said: 'There are 12 infallible Imams, and there are 12 Mahdis. The first of the Mahdis is Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan.' I asked him: 'How can it be that he is the first of the Mahdis?' He told me that [Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan] has all the markings - a scar on his back, a mark here on his forehead, something in his eye..."
"When You Say 'Imam Al-Mahdi' To A Shi'ite..."
Interviewer: "And you were drawn to these tales..."
"Abu Sajjad": "To be honest, you know that when you say 'Imam Al-Mahdi' to a Shi'ite... The Imam Al-Mahdi is the closest person to our hearts. We wait for him all our lives. So we continue to talk for three days, until he convinced me.
"The moment I was convinced, he asked me to perform a ritual ablution. I asked him why, and he said: 'It is for repentance.' I said: 'Was I a polytheist or what?' He said: 'Yes, you were all polytheists when you followed Sayyid Al-Sadr.'"
Interviewer: "Didn't you ever try to meet the son of the Imam?"
"Abu Sajjad": "I often asked to meet him, but they said it was impossible. So I asked to have a look at his picture, but they said that any cell phone or camera that takes his pictures burns up."
A TV Cartoon Was "One of The Signs That in 2008 The Imam Mahdi Would Come"
"Abu Sajjad": "He said: 'I'd like to show you one of the signs that the Imam has come, so that you will be sure that the Imam is here with us, and that the Day of Resurrection is imminent.' He wanted me to be fully convinced. What he showed me was very strange. He switched on the TV, and played me 'Adnan and Lina' cartoons [to view, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Mk_9JqzlA ] which said that World War III would break out in 2008. He said that this was one of the signs that in 2008, the Imam Al-Mahdi would come. I began to have my doubts. True, I am not that educated, but I'm not that naïve either."
Interviewer: "Are they convinced about all this?"
"Abu Sajjad": "Yes, they are."
Interviewer: "Maybe they were trying to test your loyalty to them."
"Abu Sajjad": "No, they weren't. I'm not the only one they showed it to. I met hundreds of followers, and I slept in their homes for six months."
Interviewer: "And they were all watching 'Adnan and Lina'?"
"Abu Sajjad": "Yes. They said that World War III would break out in 2008, and that Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan would command [the Muslims], and that the Imam would appear.
"He told me there was a message for me from Sayyid Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan. I asked him what was in it. The message was: 'You remember us, so we will remember you. You protected us, so we will protect you. May Allah reward you. You, my son, Abu Sajjad, may choose between Iran and Basra.'
"I said: 'What would I do in Iran? I can't live outside Iraq.' So I chose Basra, and he said: 'Okay.' He said: 'We will buy you a laptop, and we will send you communiqués by Sayyid Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan. By the way, one of the messages was directed to Sayyid Ali Khamenei, and he said in it: 'In the name of Allah the Merciful the Compassionate, return what has been entrusted to you. You must hand over the state of Iran to the son of the Imam Al-Mahdi.'" [...]
"There Was a Star of David as the Wallpaper of the Desktop... They Convinced Me that This Symbolized the Shield of David, Which Protects Every Muslim And Every Human Being"
"Abu Sajjad": "They gave me a computer that night. There was a Star of David as the wallpaper of the desktop. I had a problem with that. I kept arguing with them about this - if Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan was really the son of the Imam Al-Mahdi, how come he chose the Israeli Star of David for a symbol? Why not the verse: 'There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger?' Why not the verse: 'In the name of Allah the Merciful the Compassionate'?"
Interviewer: "His symbol was the Star of David?"
"Abu Sajjad": "Yes. They convinced me that this symbolized the shield of David, which protects every Muslim and every human being. They convinced me of that.
"They wanted me to carry out operations, but I said I wasn't mentally prepared for that, because I had just left a large political movement, and so on. I started lying to them to evade those military operations. At that point, I was beginning to have my suspicions that this was not really a movement of the Imam Al-Mahdi or his son."
Interviewer: "And that they had never even seen the Imam Al-Mahdi..."
"Abu Sajjad": "Right. I saw that they had DShK machine-guns. Does the Imam Al-Mahdi need to use DShK machine-guns?!
"One day, when we were in Basra, I said to them: 'I heard you talking about the Day of Resurrection. What does that mean?' They said: 'Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan says that on the 10th of Muharram, in 1425 - I think that's the present year - we will have a resurrection in the provinces of Najaf and Karbala.' He said that these provinces had been selected in order to kill the religious authorities there. After we would kill the religious authorities in Karbala, Ahmad ibn Al-Hassan would appear, and so would the state of divine justice, and that would be the end of it."
Interviewer: "Your commanders said you had to go out and fight..."
"Abu Sajjad": "Yes, and that we would be victorious."
Interviewer: "They said you would definitely be victorious?"
"Abu Sajjad": "If not, we would go to Iran. Why go to Iran?"
Interviewer: "Maybe to get organized?"
"Abu Sajjad": "No. Why go to Iran? We need to go on a hijra to Iran, liberate Iran from Sayyid Ali Khamenei, and then return to Iraq, bearing black flags, and topple Al-Maliki. They would topple Prime Minister Al-Maliki, and after that, the state of divine justice would appear. At that point, I began to wonder: What, is the prime minister against the Imam Al-Mahdi?"