Family of anti Al Qaeda alliance murdered as the Awakening spreads
The formation of the Awakening movements – the Sunni tribes and former insurgents opposed al Qaeda’s Talibanization of Iraq’s communities – poses a great threat to al Qaeda in Iraq. The prototype Awakening movement, which was formed in Anbar province in the fall of 2006 by Sheikh Sattar al-Rishawi in the Ramadi region, has led to the wide scale rejection of al Qaeda and a dramatic reduction in violence in most of Anbar province. The Awakening has now spread to Diyala, Salahadin and Ninewa provinces, with the help of Sheikh Sattar. Al Qaeda has responded violently to the formation of the Awakening movements in the provinces, and, like in Anbar and Diyala, is targeting the leadership and their families in the province of Salahadin.
On May 21, Zeke Minaya of Stars & Stripes reported on the formation of a “Baghdad Awakening”, however, as we noted the same day, he actually described a meeting of the tribes in Salahadin and northern Baghdad provinces. This was the initial meeting of the Salahadin Salvation Council – or the Salahadin Awakening. Sheikh Hamad al-Hasan was appointed the leader of the council. Just one week after his appointment, al Qaeda targeted Sheikh Hasan’s family.
“Four relatives of the head of the Salahadin Salvation Council, Sheikh Hamad al-Hasan, were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked their house in al-Hajjaj village, in southern Bayji,” Voices of Iraq reported. “The gunmen killed the council head’s four nephews, then set the bodies and house on fire,” an anonymous source told Voices of Iraq on Monday.
Al Qaeda’s campaign to break the newly formed Diyala and Salahadin Salvation Councils will likely only intensify over the next several months. As the Baghdad Security Plan progresses, operations will ramp up in the belts in the regions of southern Salahadin, Diyala, eastern Anbar and northern Babil. Awakening movements have formed in three of the four regions.
Al Qaeda will attempt to destroy these movements as they stands as political and ideological opposition, as well as provide manpower and intelligence capacity to fight al Qaeda’s networks. In Anbar province, the tribes have provided security at the local level, as well as encouraging thousands of its members to join the police and Army. Terror cells, foreign fighter networks and weapons caches are being exposed at a significant rate. Al Qaeda will do everything in its power to prevent the same thing from happening in Salahadin and Diyala, its command and control hub in Iraq.
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