BAGHDAD — In a fight for legitimacy, Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units are purging certain factions. The leader of Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas Brigade, part of the PMU since its formation in 2014, was arrested Feb. 8. The forces that are holding him are unknown and he has not yet been transferred to the court system.
The timing of Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji's arrest raised speculation that it was linked to his recent claims that the killers of Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub belong to a group aligned with Iran. “My cousin Alaa Mashzoub wrote an article against Iran and he was killed for that,” Khafaji had said.