Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu al-Rishawi, the founder and leader Anbar Awakening, was killed yesterday afternoon by a bomb planted near his home. Two of his bodyguards were also killed, and others, including a nephew, were wounded. Initial reports indicate that al-Qaeda terrorists took advantage of Sheik Sattar's gesture of charity at the start of holy month of Ramadan, infiltrating a gathering of local poor at the home of the Sheik in order to plant the bomb that killed him.
Under his stewardship, the Sahawat Al Anbar, or Anbar Awakening Council, grew from a loose organization of 20-odd tribes to a council of 42 Sunni tribes today. He endured attempts on his life, including a full-blown suicide assault on his home. He lost four brothers and more relatives, but he never backed down. In a way, he couldn't- he would either have the pleasure of seeing al-Qaeda finally and completely banished from Iraq, or he would give his life in the attempt. The forces he fought are too brutal and violent to allow any half measure. In the end, it has come to exactly that.
His death is a grievous loss to all who long to see a free Iraq. He provided vision, determination, and stubborn perseverance in his leadership of the sons of Anbar. His brother Ahmed has been selected to replace him as head of the council- there is no turning back in the face of terror. As one deputy chief said: "if only one small boy remains alive in Anbar, we will not hand the province over to al-Qaida."
Muslims believe that a man who is martyred during the holy month of Ramadan will be especially blessed for his sacrifice. My hope is that Sheik Sattar's blessing will be the continuation of his efforts and an even stronger determination among his kin to see terror driven completely from Iraq.
Rest in Peace.