I met Farouk Abd al Sattar al Obeidi last week. He wore a military uniform because in his heart he felt he was a part of the army. He was a deputy to Abu Abd who leads the revolutionists in the Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiyah.
Now al Obeidi is dead, killed by a man who road by on a bicycle and detonated on Sunday. Obeidi along with five of his men and nine civilians were killed.
The men are part of a U.S. backed Sunni militia paid a salary to protect the neighborhood once so violent no one left their homes. They are one of tens of thousands across the country. Many of them are former insurgents who once considered it an honor and a right to fight the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Obeidi was a man who believed in the right to "resist the occupation," he told me a few days before he was killed. But he said he realized that there were two occupations in Iraq. One by the U.S. and another by Iran, he said. He believed, as many Iraqis do, that Shiite Iran gives money to al Qaida in Iraq, a Sunni extremist groups that consider Shiite unbelievers, to cause unrest in Iraq.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," he said. "We put our hands with the American hands to get rid of these people."
Now the U.S. backed militias are targets of al Qaida in Iraq and al Obeidi believed they were also targeted by Iran.
We talked about life last week and how many members of the Sons of Iraq, as the U.S. has coined them, had been killed for their fight against the Sunni extremist group al Qaida in Iraq and Shiite militias.
"If our leaders are killed our sons will lead on," he said. "We are people who believe in the road of freedom. If it is our lives, we will pay that price."
He paid that price today.
I could see that Al Obeidi was proud of the small office the group rented in a strip mall in Adhamiyah. He sat behind a large desk and pulled out the pictures of the men they had helped catch. He helped pay for the uniforms his men wore, military uniforms although they were not in the army. On the floor green and red lights danced from a light projector attached to the wall to jazz up the drab room.
But he also lamented that the government was sectarian and would not take in the young men who fought for the neighborhood into their forces. They had no respect for the movement, he said. This was a movement that brought down violence in Iraq when U.S. forces and the Iraqi government could not, he said.
"We are an oppressed people," he said. "Our leaders are oppressors."
Personally he had no interest in joining the security forces. He rolled up his pant leg to show me why. He had a scarred pink whole in his leg. It was a reminder of the day he'd survived a grenade attack, he said. He'd helped a Shiite man leave the neighborhood of Adhamiyah after he was threatened by Sunni extremists in the once insurgent-dominated neighborhood.
He took the man out of Sunni Adhamiyah and returned home, he knew what it was to be displaced. He'd been displaced by Shiite militants.
But someone came to his home to kill him for the crime of moving the Shiite man to safety. They threw a grenade in the house. But before the man with the grenade could run away al Obeidi pulled him to him and the grenade went off. The man was a shield for al Obeidi. The attacker died and al Obeidi lived.
This time he wasn't that lucky.