Locals say the gunmen in the Volvo came from a new group calling itself the Thulfiqar Army, seemingly named for a famed two-pronged sword that in Shi'ite tradition was used by Imam Ali, the martyred son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. Two weeks ago, the group began distributing leaflets ordering al-Sadr to leave Najaf immediately or face death. Since then, residents say, Thulfiqar has killed up to four Mahdi Army militiamen, a figure challenged by al-Sadr officials, who claim the group is the invention of American propaganda. U.S. officials say they believe the group exists but have few clues about its composition. "We don't assess it to be a very large activity at this point," coalition spokesman Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said last week.
The article devotes some speculation to who may be controlling it, raising the specter of Iran. Frankly I find it tiresome to invoke Iran at all turns. The Iran-Sadr connection! The Iran-Chalabi connection! and now the Iran-Thulfikar connection? Even these glimmering, sketchy and even conflicting reports strongly suggest that the Thulfikar Army is a home-grown operation, a true grassroots insurgeny. Perhaps I am an idealist, irrevocably tainted by the rhetoric of Howard Dean, but I do believe that sometimes, the People do indeed have the Power.