Abdul Sattar Abu Risha
|Abdul Sattar Abu Risha|
|Died||September 13, 2007
|Other names||Abdul Sattar Buzaigh Hisham al-Rishawi, Sheikh Sittar|
|Occupation||Sunni tribal chief in Al-Anbar|
|Known for||"Anbar Awakening" - opposing al-Qaeda in Iraq|
Abdul Sattar Abu Risha (Arabic: عبد الستار أبو ريشة) - Sheikh Abdul Sattar Eftikhan al-Rishawi الشيخ عبد الستار افتيخان الريشاوي - (born 1972 – September 13, 2007) was a high-profile Iraqi tribal sheikh. He was the leader of an alliance of Iraqi Sunni Arab tribes that opposed al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Abu Risha was assassinated shortly after becoming an ally of the Iraqi government through forming an organisation of fellow tribal chiefs called the Sahawat al-Anbar (Anbar Awakening), based in Anbar's provincial capital of Ramadi, some 70 miles (110 km) west of Baghdad.
Abu Risha was the grandson of a tribal leader in the Iraqi revolt against the British occupying forces in 1920 and the son of a commander in the Anglo-Iraqi War in 1941. Little is known about Abu Risha's life prior to the Iraq War, albeit he reportedly ran a construction and import-export business with offices in Amman in Jordan and Dubai in the UAE. According to The Washington Post, "he was called a warlord and a highway bandit, an oil smuggler and an opportunist". Many of the Awakening leaders are believed to have at least tacitly supported the Iraqi insurgency, though Sattar claimed he never did.
During the early part of the insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as al-Qaeda's fighters tightened their grip on Ramadi, it is reported that they became increasingly repressive and challenged the tribal leaders' power. Soon they were kidnapping and beheading tribal Sunnis as part of a campaign of extortion and intimidation. Abdul Sattar's own father and two brothers were killed by al-Qaeda. During the late summer of 2006, he began enlisting his fellow sheikhs in Sahawat al-Anbar and encouraging members of his tribe to join the local police force. The U.S. forces under Lt. Col. Tony Deane encouraged Sattar and provided security for the initial meetings of the Al Anbar tribal meetings at Sattar's compound in western Ramadi; these early meetings were the beginning of what grew into the Anbar Salvation Council by the fall of 2006; in March 2007 the Council counted 41 clans from Anbar province. The development led to a sharp reduction of violence in the province and forced many al-Qaeda fighters to flee to other regions of Iraq.
Abu Risha was assassinated on September 13, 2007, along with three of his guards by an improvised explosive device planted on the road near the gate of his house in Ramadi. Al-Qaeda took responsibility for the attack and several dozen people were arrested in connection with the killing, including the head of his own security detail.
The sheikh's funeral attracted about 1,500 mourners, including Iraq's national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Interior Minister Jawad Jawad Bulani, Defense Minister General Qadir Obeidi and Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, second in command of U.S. forces in Iraq, and sparked vows of revenge. After Abu Risha's death, his brother, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, was selected to take over leadership of the Anbar Salvation Council by the tribal leaders of the province.
- Bomb Kills a Key Sunni Ally of U.S., The Washington Post, September 14, 2007
- Sunni Sheiks Join Fight Vs. Insurgency, The Washington Post, March 25, 2007
- 25 Arrests in Slaying of Prominent Sunni, Associated Press, September 21, 2007[dead link]
- Iraqis vow to fight al Qaeda after sheikh death, Reuters, Sep 14, 2007
- Sunni Sheik Who Backed U.S. in Iraq Is Killed, The New York Times, September 14, 2007
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