"There are charges against you," the general told him.
He said he was taken to a military base on the west side of the Tigris River and left in an empty room. Then he was transferred to a secret Ministry of Interior prison in al Masbah, in central Baghdad, he said.
Ali said he was relieved that he was found innocent, but he said he was worried about the future of his men and his nation.
"The Awakening succeeded to make everything good and clean the face of the government," Ali said. "They (the Iraqi government) are crazy, they are foolish, they don't need to target us . . . . we help you and support you why do you want to target us?"
He said he'd told U.S. officials many times that the Iraqi government's apparent plan was to "arrest big leaders," and that this would "destroy" the U.S. project to end the Sunni insurgency. But the American said he was wrong, he said.
Ali defended Mashhadani, who was accused of killings, kidnappings and extortion. Many believe he was still committing crimes when he became the leader of the Sons of Iraq.
"He succeeded in securing the area and Shiites returned to their homes," he said. "Just leave him . . . . If they were bad in the past, they are good guys now, and that is a success."
The original leader of the Sons of Iraq, Abu Abd, fled into exile almost a year ago after warrants for his arrest were issued. The one-time U.S. ally, who in 2007 sat with U.S. soldiers in a local mosque to plan killings of suspected al Qaida in Iraq members, is now living in Jordan, accused of killings and kidnappings and unable to return to Iraq.
In Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, Sheikh Mustafa Kamil Shibib, the head of the Sons of Iraq in southern Baghdad, said that Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Khudhir Hussein al Jubouri, his son Hamza and Sheikh Ali Mseir were all arrested this week in southern Baghdad.
"I blame (Gen. David) Petraeus, because started the Sahwa and then gave up on the project," Shbib said of the former top U.S. military commander in Iraq.
The arrests of the father and son were connected to an attack by them on al Qaida in Iraq in 2007 when the U.S. military was paying the men, Shibib said.
(Special Correspondent Hussein Kadhim contributed to this report.)
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