Thursday, September 13, 2007

Anbar tribal leader who opposed al Qaeda assassinated; Met with Bush on surprise visit

Above: Sheikh Abdel Sittar Baziya (sometimes known as Sheikh Abu Risha), was head of the Abu Risha tribe and a founder of the movement Sahawat Al Anbar, or Awakening Council, an alliance pledged to fighting al-Qaeda in Al Anbar province. He had been heavily touted by the U.S. as an example of the turning tide in Anbar province, and met in the last two weeks with President Bush. In June Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."

Sunni sheik, a key U.S. ally, is killed in blast in Anbar province

The Sunni sheik who came to symbolize the newfound cooperation between U.S. forces and tribal leaders in the former insurgent stronghold of Anbar province was killed today when a bomb planted outside his home went off, police said.

Col. Tariq Dulami, a police commander in Anbar, said Abdul Sattar Rishawi and two of his bodyguards died when the blast tore through their vehicle as it entered the driveway of Rishawi's farm in Ramadi, the provincial capital.

It was the latest and most serious blow to the Anbar sheiks, who last year made a decision to stop supporting Sunni Muslim insurgents loyal to Al Qaeda in Iraq and to work with U.S. and Iraqi forces in a new alliance called the Anbar Salvation Council.

In June, four of the sheiks were killed when a bomb went off in a Baghdad hotel where they were meeting.

Read the rest at the LA Times

Bomb kills Sunni sheikh who met Bush and took on al-Qaeda

The tribal leader who inspired the Sunni uprising against al-Qaeda has been killed by a roadside bomb, dealing a huge blow to President Bush's hopes of bringing peace to Iraq.

Sheikh Abdul Sittar Bezea al-Rishawi was killed when the bomb exploded next to his armoured car near his home in the city of Ramadi, in Anbar province. Sheikh Sittar's assassins – almost certainly al-Qaeda – reportedly followed up with a car bomb to make sure. His car was totally destroyed and at least two bodyguards were seriously injured.

Sheikh Sittar, 37, was the leader of the so-called Anbar Awakening, the grassroots revolt that has seen Sunnis throughout large swaths of western and central Iraq make common cause with the US military to throw out the al-Qaeda terrorists who had imposed a Taleban-style rule of terror on their communities.

The uprising had transformed Anbar, once the heart of the infamous Sunni Triangle and anti-American insurgency, into one of the safest provinces in Iraq.

Read the rest at the Times of London

Iraq tribal leader who opposed al Qaeda killed

A Sunni tribal leader instrumental in driving al Qaeda out of Iraq's Anbar province was killed by a bomb attack on Thursday, less than two weeks after he met U.S. President George W. Bush.

Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed near his home in Ramadi, capital of Anbar. He was the most influential leader of an alliance of Sunni Arab tribes that joined forces with U.S. troops to push al Qaeda from much of the western region...

"We believe Abu Risha was one of the most important security personnel in Iraq," said Brigadier-General Abdul-Kareem Khalaf, spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

"The minister of interior has made an order that a statue be erected where he was killed or in any other place that the people of Anbar select."

Read the rest at Yahoo News

Sunni sheikh fighting Al-Qaeda in Iraq killed

Sheikh Reesha was a prominent figure in the so-called Anbar Awakening Conference of Sunni tribes which formed an alliance with American troops in western Anbar province to claw back their neighbourhoods from Al-Qaeda.

A week ago, he attended a meeting of Iraqi government and US officials in Ramadi at which he urged other provinces to follow Anbar's lead in cooperating with the central government...

"I wish we could do in all the provinces of Iraq what we did in Anbar, which is that the people and the government come together," he said just three days after Bush made a surprise stopover at an airbase just 48 kilometres (30 miles) west of Ramadi.

Bush had said during his lightning visit that a reduction in US combat troops in Iraq was possible because of progress on the security front in Anbar.

Read the rest at AFP Google

Bomb kills key US ally in Iraq

The most prominent figure in a revolt of Sunni sheikhs against al-Qa'ida in Iraq was killed today in an explosion near his home in Anbar province, Iraqi police and tribal leaders said...

It's unclear how his death would affect US efforts to organise Sunnis against the terror network...

But privately, two officials said his assassination would be a huge setback for US efforts in Iraq, because it sends a message to others who are co-operating with coalition forces or thinking about co-operating against al Qaida.

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 guests.

Read the rest at the Independent

US calls sheikh's assassination an 'outrage'

The White House on Thursday denounced the slaying of a top Iraqi Sunni sheikh who led a fight against Al-Qaeda as an "outrage" but said it would not hamper efforts to rout the terrorist group from his home province of Anbar.

"The murder of the sheikh today in Anbar is an outrage," spokeswoman Dana Perino said after a bomb killed sheikh Sattar Abu Reesha near his home in Anbar's capital Ramadi.

The attack came just hours before US President George W. Bush, who shook the sheikh's hand during a surprise trip to Iraq 10 days ago, was due to make a televised address defending his handling of the war...

Bush was expected to tout Anbar as a success story in US-led efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the local affiliate of Osama bin Laden's jihadist group, though it was not certain he would mention the sheikh's role.

Read the rest at AFP Google

Related Link:
Report: Pro-U.S. Tribal Coalition in Anbar Said to Be Crumbling

Related Link:
Perspective: Iraqi tribal chief opposes the jihadists

Related Link:
Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders offer help to Shi'ite PM (9-26-06)

Related Link:
In Iraq's desert, Sunni tribes battle Qaeda for control (9-17-06)