Poster shows slain Awakening leader Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha staring down figures representing Al Qaeda in Ramadi. (Photo by Sam Dagher, CSM).
Al Qaeda in Iraq targeted the government-sponsored Awakening auxiliary forces in suicide and IED attacks today in Baghdad and Anbar provinces, killing 46 Iraqis.
The largest attack took place in the Radwaniya region in southwestern Baghdad province. A suicide bomber slipped into a line of an anti-al Qaeda Awakening unit that was lined up to receive pay from the Iraqi Army.
The Baghdad Operational Command claimed that 32 Iraqis, including soldiers and Awakening fighters, were killed in the blast. The leader of the Awakening in the region, Al Haj Abd, and four of his brothers were killed in the blast.
Iraqi security officials claimed that the suicide bomber had Downs Syndrome, although the report has not been confirmed. Al Qaeda in Iraq is known to have used mentally physically handicapped persons as suicide bombers in the past.
The second suicide attack occurred in the city of Al Qaim, which is in western Anbar province and is on the border with Syria. A suicide bomber entered an Awakening headquarters in the city and opened fire. He detonated his suicide vest after being wounded, killing four people, including Khalif Ahmed, an Awakening leader.
Also, in Abu Ghraib, Amir al Tamini, an Awakening leader, was killed in an IED attack as he was driving his car. Tamini is the brother of one of the top leaders of the Awakening Council in Anbar province.
In the past, Al Qaeda has targeted the Awakening in an attempt to break it up and regain control over areas al Qaeda once controlled. The largely Sunni Awakening forces are made up of tribal members and former insurgents who oppose al Qaeda’s attempts to impose a Taliban-like regime in Iraq. The Awakening was officially founded in Ramadi in Anbar in the summer of 2006 by Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, and the movement rapidly expanded throughout Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Salahadin, and in other provinces.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has not been successful in its efforts despite some horrific attacks, particularly some that took place in late 2006 and in 2007. In the winter and spring of 2006, al Qaeda launched deadly attacks throughout Anbar, which included crude chlorine gas bombs. Al Qaeda issued a hit list for Awakening leaders in the summer of 2007 and even succeeded in assassinating Sattar, Awakening’s founder. The Awakening did not break in the face of al Qaeda’s offensive.
• 52 casualties of Youssifiya blast – BOC, Voices of Iraq
• 3 killed, 7 wounded in Qaim suicide bombing, Voices of Iraq
• Sahwa fighter killed in blast in Baghdad, Voices of Iraq
• Al Qaeda suicide bombers target the Salahadin Awakening, The Long War Journal
• Sheikh Sattar, leader of the Anbar Awakening, killed in bombing, The Long War Journal
• Fallujah government center struck by chlorine suicide attack, The Long War Journal