Iraq Sentences Awakening Council Leader to Death

Impending Execution Raises Concern Among Sunnis

Capping off the controversial March arrest of a top figure in the US-backed Awakening Council, the Iraqi government has announced that the figure, Adel al-Mashhadani, is being sentenced to death as a terrorist.

Mashhadani was the leader of the Fadhil Awakening Council, which in late March staged rallies against Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for reneging on promises of employment for members of the council. Mashhadani was quickly arrested on charges he had been involved in a murder long before his membership in the council.

Many members of the Sunni militia were recruited by the US despite having known militant ties, and in many cases they received dubious promises of legal immunity for their past crimes in return for their loyalty to the faction. Mashhadani’s arrest sparked a violent gunbattle which led to the government rounding up all the members of the faction in Fadhil.

The residents of the Sunni majority Baghdad suburb are none too happy with the decision to execute Mashhadani, who they maintain is a hero who was protecting the Sunnis in the region. It has also renewed claims that the Shi’ite government is unfairly targeting the nation’s Sunni minority.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.