Monday, September 17, 2007


Islamic State of Iraq threatens to assassinate Sunni leaders

Security, Tribal
(AP) -- An al Qaeda front group threatened to assassinate Sunni leaders who "stained the reputations" of their people by supporting the Americans as the Iraqi government's parliament base fragmented Saturday with the defection of a hardline Shiite bloc. The two developments cast doubt over prospects for political and military progress in Iraq as the U.S. Senate gears up for a debate next week on Democratic demands for deeper and faster troop cuts than President Bush plans.
The threat against Sunni leaders came from the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed responsibility for the assassination Thursday of Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha, the mastermind of the Sunni Arab revolt against
al Qaeda in Anbar province. Bush met Abu Reesha at a U.S. base in Anbar this month and praised his courage.
In a Web posting, the Islamic State said it had formed "special security committees" to track down and "assassinate the tribal figures, the traitors, who stained the reputations of the real tribes by submitting to the soldiers of the Crusade" and the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. "We will publish lists of names of the tribal figures to scandalize them in front of our blessed tribes," the statement added.
In a second statement, the purported head of the Islamic State, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, said he was "honored to announce" a new Ramadan offensive in memory of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq killed last year in a U.S. air strike. Hours after the announcement, a car bomb exploded late Saturday in a mostly Shiite area of southwest Baghdad, killing at least 11 people lined up to buy bread at a bakery. Two of the dead were children, police said.
The blast occurred at the start of iftar, the evening meal at which Muslims break their dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast. The bloodshed was a blow to government hopes that a peaceful Ramadan would demonstrate the success of the seven-month operation in the capital.

A prominent Sunni sheik told The Associated Press that the province's leaders would not be intimidated by al Qaeda threats and would continue efforts to drive the terror movement from their communities. "We as tribesmen will act against the al Qaeda, and those standing behind it who do not want us to put an end to it," Ali Hatem al-Suleiman said.
Still, the al Qaeda threats and the assassination of Abu Reesha, one of the best protected tribal figures in Iraq, could cause some tribal leaders in other Sunni provinces to reconsider plans to stand up against the terror movement.

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