A recent fact-finding trip to Baghdad and Najaf suggests that such fears are exaggerated.
These men are all teachers in the hawza, the religious establishment of Najaf.
Clearly the Najaf hawza had no intention of playing such a role.
I recently had an opportunity to test out some of these suspicions during a trip to Iraq and the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.
Often, the attacks he ordered in 2004 against Najaf and Fallujah are held against him.
The scene of them taking that young kid to Najaf to bury him is still in my mind.
Not since the Saudi and Wahhabi sack of Najaf and Kerbala in 1806 has sectarian violence in the Middle East been this extreme.
Similar signs have appeared in Najaf, the city that is home to the al-Sadr family.