Abu Deraa ("Father of the Shield") (Arabic: أبو درع) is an Iraqi Shia warlord whose men have been accused of terrorizing and killing Sunnis. His aim has apparently been to avenge Shia deaths at the hands of Sunni militants in Iraq, though he has stated that he is fighting for all Iraqis and only targets the 'occupiers'.
Abu Deraa is this person's nom de guerre, not his real name. Some reports say that his real name is Ismail Al Lami (Arabic: اسماعيل اللامي) or Ismail Hafidh (Arabic:اسماعيل حافظ)
Abu Deraa operated out of Sadr City, which is also the stronghold of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army. He has gained a reputation for his command of Shiite death squads and brutal attacks targeting Sunni Muslims and cases of mass kidnappings in broad daylight. Many Shiites see him as a brave warrior who has inflicted misery on Sunni insurgents but Sunnis see him as a sectarian warlord who targets Sunnis because of their background. He was also accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and assassination of Saddam Hussein's lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi. Abu Deraa's son was reported to have pulled the trigger. He is thought to have been recently disavowed, at least tacitly, by Muqtada al-Sadr due to his unmitigated killing sprees.
- Deraa is said to have been responsible for the abduction of scores of Sunnis whose bodies have been recovered from a garbage tip at Al-Sada, a lawless wasteland near Sadr City.
- He allegedly commandeered a fleet of government ambulances with which he lured 40-50 young Sunnis to their death, driving the ambulances into the Sunni-dominated quarter of Adhamiyah in Baghdad, announcing over the loudspeakers: "Please give blood for the insurgency! The Shiia are killing your insurgency brothers."
- Abu Deraa is also rumoured to have masterminded the kidnapping of Sunni MP Tayseer al-Mashhadani in July 2006, who was released after two months of captivity. He also is said to have supervised the forced eviction of hundreds of Sunni families from Shiite-dominated areas of the capital and some outlying towns.
- Deraa is reputed to have overseen the abduction of five British citizens from the Iraqi Finance Ministry on May 29, 2007.
Claims of death
In a statement released December 4, 2006, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the killing of Abu Deraa on a road north of Baghdad. The claim came three days after a statement released by the Islamic Army in Iraq that also claimed responsibility for the killing of Abu Deraa. It has been claimed that he had taken part in a by-proxy interview with Sydney Morning Herald conducted by veteran Middle East correspondent Paul McGeough on December 20, 2006. His first exclusive interview was with Reuters news agency published on November 16, 2006.
According to US intelligence, Abu Deera fled to Iran, to evade capture in early 2007 and has since then commanded his forces from out Iran. In August 2010, after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki formed a coalition government with rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, there were reports that Abu Deraa was allowed to return to Iraq. This wasn't confirmed by the U.S or Iraqi forces. Free Syrian Army claimed it has killed Abu Deraa in Damascus there by confirming involvement of Mahdi army in Syrian civil war.
- Baghdad Shi'ite militant says fighting for all Iraqis Reuters, November 16, 2006
- Face to face with Iraq's most wanted Sydney Morning Herald, December 20, 2006
- Al-Sadr's Weakening Grip on the Mahdi Army Jamestown Foundation, October 10, 2006
- Lawyer's fate sealed with judas kiss Sydney Morning Herald, August 23, 2006
- Kidnapped Iraqi lawmaker released CNN, August 26, 2007
- Death squad leader behind abduction of five Britons is named The Times, September 13, 2007
- Islamic State of Iraq Claims Responsibility for Killing Shi'ite Militia Commander Abu Deraa SITE Institute, December 4, 2006
- Intelligence Corps of the Islamic Army in Iraq Announces the Killing of Abu Deraa SITE Institute, December 1, 2006
- United States Department of the Treasury Treasury Designates Individuals, Entity Fueling Iraqi Insurgency
- Butcher of Baghdad 'returns' amid turmoil
- Is this Iraq's most prolific mass killer?, The Times, January 21, 2007
- The Face of Iraq's Brutality, TIME, November 28, 2006
- The Shiite Zarqawi: A Profile of Abu Deraa, Jamestown Foundation, November 16, 2006
- A New Enemy Emerges—The Shiite Zarqawi, Newsweek, November 13, 2006
- Baghdad buzzing with talk about "Shia Zarqawi", Agence France-Presse, July 8, 2006
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