Iraq: Prominent Sheikh who backed fight against al Qaeda killed
Top Sunni sheikh Sattar Abu Reesha, who spearheaded a fight against Al-Qaeda, died by a bomb on Thursday. Abu Reesha died near his home in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.
The US military confirmed the killing. "I can confirm that he was killed in front of his house from an explosion from a roadside bomb," military spokesman Major Winfield S. Danielson told AFP.
Anbar security chief Tareq al-Dulaimi said Abu Reesha "was returning home when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb planted by insurgents. His car was hit directly."
One bodyguard was also killed in the attack. Dulaimi told state television that the sheikh while on his way home ordered his convoy to stop so he could help a handicapped man sitting by the roadside. "Soon after he got back in his car the bomb exploded," the police chief said.
Sheikh Reesha, in his forties, was the leading figure in the Anbar Awakening Conference. "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 a week ago at a meeting of Iraqi government and US officials in Ramadi.
Abu Reesha is the ninth member of his family to be killed since the US-led invasion in March 2003. His father, Sheikh Ftikhan, also died in a car bomb attack. According to the AP, officials said his killing will constitute a huge setback for American efforts in Iraq, because it sends a message to others who are cooperating with occupation forces or thinking about cooperating against al-Qaeda. Abu Reesha was among a group of tribal leaders who met with Bush on Sept. 3 at al-Asad Air Base in Anbar province.
Another bomb attack was reported in Baghdad on Thursday. The blast ripped through a crowd of civilians at a public square in the east of the capital, killing at least four people, Iraqi security officials said.