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Abu Risha, head of the Anbar Awakening Council who met with President Bush just 10 days earlier, died when a roadside bomb exploded near his home just west of Ramadi as he returned from his farm, police Col. Tareq Youssef said. Two bodyguards and the driver also were killed.
Moments later a car bomb exploded nearby but caused no casualties. An Interior Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said the second bomb was intended as a backup in case Abu Risha escaped the first blast.
The attack occurred one year after the goateed, charismatic, chain-smoking young sheik organized 25 Sunni Arab clans into an alliance against al-Qaida in Iraq, seeking to drive the terror movement from sanctuaries where it had flourished after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
No group claimed responsibility for the assassination, but it was widely assumed to have been carried out by al-Qaida, which already had killed four of Abu Risha's brothers and six other relatives for working with the U.S. military.