A commander of a Shia militia loyal to the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has claimed that Prince Harry will be a prime target for the insurgency in Iraq.
Comments made to the Guardian newspaper showed the effect of intense media speculation over the prince's deployment in the country as a troop leader, originally announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Abu Mujtaba, the commander of a 50-man Mahdi army unit in Basra, told the newspaper: "One of our aims is to capture Harry, we have people inside the British bases to inform us on when he will arrive
"Not only us, the Mahdi army, that will try to capture him, but every person who hates the British and the Americans will try to get him, all the mujahideens in Iraq, the al-Qaida, the Iranians all will try to get him."
The comments were condemned as blatant propaganda by the MoD, but concern is growing among officials over the constant speculation surrounding the prince and any role he may play in Iraq.
Prince Harry himself has said that he wishes to fulfil his job commitments in the military, but the final decision rests with General Sir Richard Dannat who heads the army.
As a troop leader in the Blues and Royals regiment, the prince would lead a group of 12 men in four armoured vehicles.
The regiment is part of a mechanised brigade which should be deployed next month.
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