Poster shows Sheikh Abu-Risha staring down figures representing Al Qaeda in Ramadi. (Photo by Sam Dagher, CSM). Click to view.
Combat Outpost Corregidor, Baghdad Province: The Muslim holy month of Ramadan has begun with a grim attack against the leader of the movement that actively opposes al Qaeda in Iraq. Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the founder of the Anbar Awakening movement, was murdered in a car bomb attack outside of his home in Ramadi. The Associated Press provides the details of the assassination.
Abu Risha and two of his bodyguards were killed by a roadside bomb planted near the tribal leader’s home in Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital, said Col. Tareq Youssef, supervisor of Anbar police …
“It is a major blow to the council, but we are determined to strike back and continue our work,” said Sheik Jubeir Rashid, a senior member of Abu Risha’s group. “Such an attack was expected, but it will not deter us.” He said the bombing took place at 3:30 p.m. as Abu Risha was returning home.
A Ramadi police officer said Abu Risha had received a group of poor people at his home earlier in the day, as a gesture of charity marking the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity out of security concerns, said authorities believed the bomb was planted by one of the visitors.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said that after the first blast that killed Abu Risha, a car bomb exploded nearby. “The car bomb had been rigged just in case the roadside bomb missed his convoy,” Khalaf said. There were no casualties from the car bomb, he added.
Sattar’s murder is a serious blow to the Anbar Awakening and the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq beyond the borders of Anbar province. Sheikh Sattar has been instrumental in organizing tribal sheikhs and former Sunni insurgent groups such as the 1920s Revolution Brigades and the Mujahideen Army to band together and fight al Qaeda in Iraq.
Sattar and the Anbar Awakening spread its influence through tribal and insurgent connections into Salahadin, Baghdad, Diyala, and Babil provinces. Here in the Haswa region, US military officers and Iraqi sheikhs credit the Anbar Awakening with providing both the inspiration and material support to organize against al Qaeda in Iraq. US military officers described the spread of the resistance against al Qaeda in Iraq in southern Baghdad and northern Babil provinces as “arcing from Anbar in the west to the east.”
Sattar was seen as more than just a military leader. Although he was appointed the chief of counterterrorism in Anbar Province by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, in the past a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal that Sattar had political aspirations as well. Sattar was seen as a legitimate, pro-American alternative to the current crop of Sunni leaders in the Iraqi government.
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