Leader of Iraq's Governing Council Assasinated in Car Bomb Attack
Published on Monday, May 17, 2004 by the Associated Press
Leader of Iraq's Governing Council Assasinated in Car Bomb Attack

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The head of Iraqi Governing Council was killed Monday in a car bombing near a U.S. checkpoint in central Baghdad, an Iraqi official said.

Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, was among four Iraqis killed in the blast, according to Redha Jawad Taki, a member of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim organization known as SCIRI.

Saleem, the name he went by most frequently, was a Shiite and leader of the Islamic Dawa Movement in the southern city of Basra. He was a writer, philosopher and political activist, who served as editor of several newspapers and magazines.

The attack took place amid rising turmoil in Iraq as this country prepares for the United States to transfer power to an Iraqi interim government June 30. It underscores the risks facing those perceived as owing their power to the Americans.

Hamid al-Bayati, spokesman of SCIRI, said Saleem was trying to enter the Green Zone when the blast occurred and ``he was killed.'' Al-Bayati did not know whether the bomb was triggered by a suicide driver or detonated in some other fashion.

Saleem was in a convoy of five vehicles, and the car carrying the bomb was adjacent to the council chief's car when it exploded, witness Mohammed Laith said. He said Saleem's driver and assistant were among those killed. Saleem held the council presidency, which rotates monthly among a selected group of members.

The bomb destroyed three cars waiting in line to enter the coalition headquarters, which is called the Green Zone, Col. Mike Murray said.

Smoke rose from the site of the blast on the west side of the Tigris River. Firefighters and about 10 ambulances raced to the scene.

A rocket struck the compound of the coalition headquarters on Saturday, wounding one U.S. soldier and one civilian.

He was the second member of the U.S. appointing Governing Council to be assassinated since the group was established last July.

Aquila al-Hashimi, one of three women on the 25-member body, was mortally wounded Sept. 20 when gunmen in a pickup truck ambushed her car as she drove near her Baghdad home. She died five days later.

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