Long War Journal – A suicide bomber killed a prominent Iraqi parliamentarian and five others near Fallujah on Tuesday afternoon. Sheikh Aifan Sadoun Aifan al-Issawi, a member of the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya political bloc and one of the leaders of Iraq’s Sunni tribal Awakening, was attacked as he inspected a road construction project south of the city. Two civilians and three of the sheikh’s bodyguards were also killed in the explosion, and at least four others were wounded.
In addition to being a member of Iraq’s national parliament, Aifan was a sheikh of the Albu Issa tribe and one of the founders of Fallujah’s tribal “Awakening” movement during 2006 that was largely responsible for the improvement in Iraq’s security over the subsequent two years. Known to many American military personnel from that period by his nickname, “Dark,” Sheikh Aifan was the first Fallujan to form and lead an American-allied militia against al Qaeda on the rural peninsula south of the famously restive city.
Aifan has survived numerous attempts on his life since his public opposition to radical insurgents allied with al Qaeda in Iraq and their shadow government, the Islamic State of Iraq. On March 16, 2007, al Qaeda-affiliated insurgents detonated a dump truck filled with explosives and chlorine gas canisters in his village of Albu Aifan, in an attempt to kill him and other tribal leaders who had defied the Islamic State of Iraq. Several civilians were killed in the chemical attack, including three children and Aifan’s mother. The event is widely regarded as an atrocity that galvanized widespread tribal support against al Qaeda in the Fallujah area.
“They killed a lot of kids and innocent people,” Aifan told the Long War Journal in a 2011 interview. “I told my people, you see, they killed the kids, they killed the women. Why did they send the big tank with the chlorine? And a lot of people when they saw these bad things happen, they stopped sitting in their house, they felt they should fight, or at minimum, they should support us to fight al Qaeda. And thankfully, the people Awakened.”
“Love him or hate him, he was a complex individual who did much good at a critical time for his country and ours. I bid peace to him”. – LW BlackFive