As bin Laden Speaks Out, Iraqis Parade Against al-Qaeda

October 25, 2007

The Iraqi people are tired. They’re tired of the death, destruction and fear that has been brought upon them by insurgents who have aligned themselves with al-Qaeda. More and more, they’re standing shoulder to shoulder with American and Coalition Forces to rid their country of this cancer that calls itself al-Qaeda. It’s great to see the people of the region uniting against al-Qaeda and basically thumbing their noses at Osama bin Laden and his thugs. Al-Qaeda made it personal to them, when they assinated one of their own, Sheik Sattar Abu Risha.

As Osama bin Laden, in an audio tape, called for Iraqi insurgents to unite together against American forces, his plea was ignored by Iraqi citizens in Ramadi. The leaders of al-Qaeda at one time, declared Ramadi the seat of a new Islamic caliphate and the capital of the Iraqi insurgency. Instead of listening to what bin Laden had to say, the people of Ramadi on Tuesday, invited US forces to be their guests at a parade. Though security was tight, so tight that there was no pedestrian traffic allowed near the parade, the 2 hour procession was led by the children of the city to commemorate the slain of the tribal revolt againt al-Qaeda, which has virtually silenced al-Qaeda in al Anbar Province.

“With unity, victory is possible,” said Iraqi Defense Adviser Mowaffak al Rubaei.

The parade on Tuesday which wound through 4 miles of the city, celebrated the life of the city’s favorite son, Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, the organizer/icon of the areas turn against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists. Sattar was killed by insurgents on September 13th, though his “Awakening” movement continues to live on in the region. Images of Sattar adorned police cars, armored vehicles and city buildings for the parade, which marked the end of a 40 day mourning period. As they passed the reviewing stands, on which sat tribal sheiks, military leaders and civilian leaders at the Government Center, Iraqi police officers and soldiers smiled.
American Soldiers and Marines who work the area have said they’ve seen a huge turn-around and said that the celebration was a welcome sight.

“I’ve seen a full transformation of Iraq,” said Marine Warrant Officer Bobby Garza. “It’s a beautiful thing. We wouldn’t have been sitting here doing this in January, no way,” he said. “But just in a blink of an eye you could see this place change. The people just switched and wouldn’t let al-Qaeda back into their communities. It’s wild.”

On the viewing box, one could see a large door-sized posted of Sattar, which was flanked on one side by the Iraqi flag and on the other side, the yellow flag of the “Iraqi Awakening.”

Al Rubaie praised the spirit of Sattar and the Iraqi Awakening and pledged that the central government would support it with funding, security forces and assistance to develop the region and create firmer ties with Baghdad. Following the parade, al Rubaie was the head guest of Sattar’s brother Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, who is now in charge of the Awakening movement, after his brother’s death. He and other sheiks discussed issues of reconstruction and governance of the region. Then someone asked him if he was still fearful of al-Qaeda.

“Al-Qaeda never wanted to see the sons of Anbar to unite and form security forces. Now I think we have broken their back by building the police and security force,” he said, adding that he wasn’t afraif of meeting the same fate as his younger brother Sattar. “Let them come forward and show their faces … Let them come out, we will fight them,” he said.

Just prior to his death, his brother Sattar has spoken in similar fashion, in September. Al-Qaeda’s stronghold on the region has dwindled even more dramatically since Sattar’s death. I applaud the people of Ramadi and al-Anbar Province for their courage and resilience in standing up to al-Qaeda and declaring publically that they’re not ready to hand their communities back over to these thugs.



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