IRAQ SUNNIS REBUFF BIN LADEN

Dismissing Al-Qaeda’s indiscriminate attacks as un-Islamic, Sunni tribal and political leaders on December 31 rebuffed Osama Bin Laden’s treason charges and threats for those who take up arms against his group. “Bin Laden’s statement doesn’t affect us,”

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Dismissing Al-Qaeda’s indiscriminate attacks as un-Islamic, Sunni tribal and political leaders on December 31 rebuffed Osama Bin Laden’s treason charges and threats for those who take up arms against his group. “Bin Laden’s statement doesn’t affect us,” Sheikh Khalid Shahudh, a senior member of the Awakening Council in western Anbar province, said. “He is making these threats from a position of weakness.”
In his fifth recorded message this year, Bin Laden accused some Sunni tribes of having “betrayed the nation and brought shame and scandal” to their people. Several tribes have joined the Awakening Councils which are funded by the US military to fight al-Qaeda-linked groups.
Also known as Concerned Local Citizens, the councils are centralised in Anbar and surrounding Sunni-dominant areas. “They will suffer in life and the afterlife,” Bin Laden threatened in the 56-minute audiotape posted on the internet on December 29.
Sheikh Shahudh, the senior Awakening leader, spurned the threats. “Al-Qaeda has no more power in Anbar province,” he contended.
Only ten days after shaking hands with visiting US President George Bush, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha, the top Sunni tribal leader fighting al-Qaeda, was killed on September 13, outside his home in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar. He was protected by US forces who parked an M-1 tank in front of his house and trained his bodyguards and security forces.
Sheikh Shahudh stressed that Al-Qaeda and his affiliated groups have become the only enemy. “We have no enemies except Al-Qaeda. The Americans are not our enemy anymore. Our forces will deal exclusively with Al-Qaeda.”