Abdul Sattar Abu Risha and two of his bodyguards were killed in a bomb attack on Thursday near his home in Ramadi.
The people of Anbar are not taking the killing of Abu Risha, the leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, sitting down:
“All the tribes agreed to fight al Qaeda until the last child in Anbar,” his brother, Ahmed Abu Risha, told Reuters.
“The killing of Sheikh Abu Risha will give us more energy … to continue confronting al Qaeda members and to dispose of them,” said Sheikh Rashid Majid, a leader of the al-Bufahad tribe in Ramadi.
Many ordinary Iraqis agreed. “All of Anbar owes this man, he offered security and stability,” said 45-year-old Mohammed Hussain Ali from Ramadi.
“Revenge should be made quickly,” mourners chanted as the coffins of Abu Risha and two bodyguards, draped in Iraqi flags, were carried to the cemetery. “We will chase the killers.”
The reaction will be violent against al Qaeda, who want to kill all of our tribal leaders, the police and army,” said Mohmmed al-Fahdawi, a police lieutenant-colonel in Ramadi.“We have decided not to be merciful toward anyone who sympathizes with al Qaeda because it is either us or them.”
“The reaction will be fierce,” said Assad Khaldon, a 40-year-old teacher from Falluja.
The man who inspires this passionate loyalty was clearly a hero, if ever there was one. His father and a brother were both shot dead in the past couple of years. Another two of his brothers were kidnapped and their whereabouts remain unknown. In the face of such horror, instead reeling in despair, he chose to fight:
Abu Risha set up the Anbar Salvation Council last year as local Sunni tribal leaders became tired of the indiscriminate killings by al Qaeda and their harsh interpretation of Islam.
Once the heart of Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency and the most dangerous region of Iraq for U.S. troops and Iraqis, it is now relatively safe after he helped persuade young men to start joining local police forces to secure their own neighbourhoods.
Another brother, Ahmed Abu Risha was named as the council’s new head.
UPDATE: Sept 17th:
The Long War Journal reports that U.S. Forces have captured one of the baddies responsible for killing the sheikh.