Iraqi accused of killing father for aiding US
Violence across country leaves at least 27 dead
BAGHDAD — An insurgent linked to Al Qaeda shot and killed his father as he slept in his bed yesterday for refusing to quit his job as an Iraqi interpreter for the US military, police said, a rare deadly attack on a close family member over allegations of collaborating with the enemy.
The attack happened on a particularly bloody day in Iraq, with at least 27 people killed nationwide in bombings and ambushes largely targeting the houses of government officials, Iraqi security forces, and those seen as allied with them.
Hameed al-Daraji, 50, worked as a contractor and translator for the US military for seven years since shortly after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
He was shot in the chest about 3 a.m. while sleeping in his house in Samarra, a former insurgent stronghold 60 miles north of Baghdad, police Lieutenant Emad Muhsin said.
Authorities arrested the son and his cousin, saying the young men apparently were trying to prove their loyalty after rejoining the insurgency. Police were also looking for another son who allegedly took part in the attack.
Citing confessions, police said the son whom they arrested, Abdul-Halim Hameed, 30, was a former member of Al Qaeda in Iraq who quit the terrorist network in mid-2007 under pressure from US-Iraqi security operations that have led to a sharp drop in violence in the area.
Colonel Hazim Ali, a senior security official in Samarra, said Hameed, his 19-year-old cousin, and 24-year-old brother remained committed to extremist causes.
With US troops withdrawing from the country, Ansar al-Sunnah, an insurgent group with ties to Al Qaeda, recently lured the men into their ranks with offers of hard cash, Ali said.
The US military said it was looking into the report.
The Samarra assault brought into focus the fears of Iraqis who have worked with the Americans and are worried they will face renewed violence as their employers prepare to leave the country by the end of next year.
Already, many have been targeted by extremist groups who view them as traitors. But Iraqis could not think of another case in which a family member killed an immediate relative because of his or her employment with the Americans in this country.
Samarra, in the Sunni heartland north of Baghdad, has been one of the hardest areas to control since the US-led invasion. It was the site of the February 2006 bombing that destroyed a revered golden-domed Shi’ite mosque, sparking a wave of retaliatory sectarian violence that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.
The area has been relatively peaceful since local tribal leaders revolted against Al Qaeda in Iraq, but Ali said sleeper cells were waiting for the chance to regroup.
In other violence yesterday, gunmen ambushed a checkpoint near the Anbar Province town of Qaim, a former insurgent stronghold near the Syrian border, killing seven Iraqi soldiers, according to police, hospital, and provincial officials.
They said the gunmen shot an eighth soldier several times but left him alive “to convey a message to the Iraqi Army.’’
Provincial council member Sheik Efan Saadoun blamed the attack on a decision to replace police with Iraqi soldiers who are less familiar with the local surroundings.
Meanwhile, car bombs targeting a police captain and a provincial council member tore through two restive cities north of Baghdad.
One blew up in the city of Tuz Khormato about 50 yards from the house of Niazi Mohammed, an ethnic Turkomen member of the Salahuddin provincial council, according to police.
City police chief Colonel Hussein Ali blamed Al Qaeda for the attack, which killed at least eight people and wounded 69.
Another blast targeted the house of police Captain Mustafa Mohammed in the city of Baqubah, killing two neighbors and wounding 27 other people, including some of the officer’s relatives, police said.