Forward Operating Base Delta, Wasit Province: Less than one week after the assassination of Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the leader of the movement fighting al Qaeda in Anbar province and beyond, US Special Forces captured one of his killers. Fallah Khalifa Hiyas Fayyas al-Jumayli, also known as Abu Khamis, was captured in a raid in al Qaeda safe houses west of Balad in Salahadin province along with three associates.
Al Qaeda in Iraq took credit for the assassination of Sheikh Sattar. But Sheikh Sattar was just one of al Qaeda’s targets in Anbar province. “Intelligence reports indicate al-Jumayli is involved in a plot to kill key leaders in the tribal awakening,” Multinational Forces West stated. “He is also reportedly responsible for car bomb and suicide vest attacks in Anbar Province, and is closely allied with senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders in the region.”
Last week, the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq’s political front group, announced it has created “special security committees” with the purpose to “assassinate the tribal figures, the traitors, who stained the reputations of the real tribes by submitting to the soldiers of the Crusade. … We will publish lists of names of the tribal figures to scandalize them in front of our blessed tribes.” In a separate statement, the Islamic State of Iraq also announced the onset of its “Ramadan Offensive.”
Al Qaeda in Iraq carried out another attack on Sunnis aligning themselves with the Awakening movement. Al Qaeda in Iraq attacked two villages near the city of Muqdadiyah in Diyala province. Fourteen civilians were killed and 12 shops were burned to the ground. The villagers were “members of a tribe which has aligned against al Qaeda and joined Diyala Awakening Council to fight them,” a military intelligence source told The Long War Journal.
In Wasit province, Shia tribes are beginning to organize along the same lines as the Anbar Awakening and local Concerned Citizens groups south of Baghdad. “The leader of the Migasees tribe here in Wasit province, acknowledged tribal leaders have discussed creating a brigade of young men trained by the Americans to bolster local security as well as help patrol the border with Iran,” the Associated Press reported. “The death of Sheik Abu Risha will not thwart us,” said Sheik Majid Tahir al-Magsousi. “What matters to us is Iraq and its safety.”
The Shia tribes began to organize after the murder of two provincial governors and last month’s clash between the Mahdi Army and security forces in Karbala during a religious festival. Security forces, which are officially sanctioned by the Iraqi government, are being organized much like the Provincial Security Forces were in Anbar.
“Army Capt. Majid al-Imara, who said he has been charged with establishing the new force, said each battalion will be made up of 350 men chosen by tribal leaders, and they will be armed and equipped by the Iraqi government and paid $300 monthly,” the Associated Press reported, with the goal of integrating “those tribal volunteers into one branch of the Iraqi security forces, be it the army, the police or – here in Wasit – the border patrol.”
Here in Wasit province, the Georgian Army deployed an additional brigade of light infantry as Coalition partners are beginning to draw down. Over 2,000 soldiers from the 3rd Georgian Infantry Brigade deployed to Forward Operating Base Delta on the outskirts of Al Kut in early July. Their mission is to interdict the Iranian ratlines that are funneling weapons, arms, and Special Groups terrorists into Iraq to attack the Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces. Georgian troops will establish a series of combat outposts along the major roads in an attempt to stem the flow of Iranian aid. Georgian officers have been reluctant to speak about their interactions with Iraqi tribal auxiliary police units being formed.
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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.