Following are excerpts from comments and an interview with Iraqi Shiite Leader Muqtada Al-Sadr, which aired on Al-'Alam TV on January 24, 2006.
Muqtada Al-Sadr:The Mahdi Army was established in order to defend Iraqi lands and holy places. But it is more than that. It is also intended to defend against attacks on Islam outside of Iraq.
If Iraq comes under attack, the Mahdi Army will make sacrifices to defend it. Similarly, if the neighboring countries - Iran, Syria, or Saudi Arabia – come under attack, the Mahdi Army will be the first to come to their defense, Allah willing.
America said that if the elected government were to ask it to withdraw its forces from Iraq, it would do so. That's what they said. When the government is established, the faithful believers in this government will demand that the occupation forces leave Iraq. If the forces leave - this is our goal. If America does not withdraw its forces, it will be exposed, and its plots in Iraq and the Middle East will be exposed.