After nemesis’ death, Sons of Iraq leader recovers from attack

‘Sons of Iraq’ members who stumbled upon and killed Tarmiyah-area insurgent leader Abu Ghazwan on Nov. 7 brought some justice for a critically injured leader, who faces a lengthy recovery.

A Sept. 1 suicide attack in downtown Tarmiyah had severely injured Sheikh Imad Jassim, who had organized the first local group of Sons of Iraq members in late 2007. No US soldiers were hurt in the attack.

A teenage boy strapped with a suicide vest attacked Imad in the Tarmiyah marketplace, just outside the red metal doors that led to his family compound, said Captain Calvin Kline, the information officer for the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division,. At least a half-dozen other Iraqis were injured as well.

The boy had posed as a perfume seller in the downtown market, while actually studying Imad’s patterns of behavior, according to an email from Kline,Imad had insisted the boy be allowed to sell the perfume, “to raise money for his family,” over the objections of some suspicious Sons of Iraq members, Kline said.

That attack followed the Aug 12 suicide bombing that killed Sergeant Kenneth Gibson of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, and wounded two US soldiers and many Iraqis.

Imad lost one leg far above the knee, Kline wrote, and suffered other serious injuries.

He was actually “coded” as killed in action, Kline wrote, before US soldiers at the Balad medical facilities were able to stabilize him. Imad remains in medical care, and according to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Boccardi, battalion commander, may eventually be brought to Walter Reed Medical Center for long-term medical care.

Two of Imad’s brothers were killed during Al Qaeda’s control of Tarmiyah during 2006 and 2007. Imad had fled to Syria before returning last year, when he set up the first local group of the Sons of Iraq. The local security force worked closely with Alpha Company and former commander Captain Christopher Loftis, who Imad called a “brother,” in a June interview.

Imad’s father is Sheikh Sa’ad Jassim, a powerful tribal leader released from Iraqi detention earlier this year. Jassim had funneled US reconstruction money to al Qaeda, and while that sounds criminal, it doesn’t take into account the near total control Al Qaeda had over the Tarmiyah area through most of 2007. During that period, anyone not paying “protection” money to Al Qaeda would certainly have been targets for assassination, likely by fighters led by Abu Ghazwan.

Ghazwan was killed earlier this month about a mile north of Tarmiyah, along the Tigris River, during a cache search conducted by Sons of Iraq and Iraqi Army elements. While there was some US oversight, no US soldiers were directly involved in the cache search, or the ensuing gun-battle.

Kline wrote that US and Iraqi forces were aware that Ghazwan had been operating in the general area, but has been unaware of the tunnel complex that Ghazwan retreated to. It was “dumb luck” they had stumbled across his hiding place.

When Ghazwan realized he had been discovered, he fired at the approaching soldiers, retreated deeper into the tunnels, and threw a grenade that injured one Sons of Iraq member. He was then shot to death. Only after his body was recovered from the tunnel did the Iraqis realize who they had battled.

During the worst of Al Qaeda’s influence in Tarmiyah, Ghazwan personally beheaded some of those who defied him, according to Loftis.

Ghazwan died fighting, at the end of a tunnel. He died cornered in the dark, alone.

Formore information on Abu Ghazwan, see Iraqi troops kill senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader.

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