BAGHDAD: Haqy Asaad made a living snipping wires off bombs around Baghdad.
Haqy Asaad, an explosives expert with the Interior Ministry, was killed last week from a gunshot wound to the gut.
By Rick Jervis, USA TODAY
He was once flung back from the force of a roadside bomb that detonated prematurely, killing a colleague but only slightly wounding him.
In July, he carefully defused an explosives vest worn on a would-be suicide bomber outside the Green Zone, the fortified area housing U.S. and some Iraqi government offices.
He earned the nickname "Robot" from U.S. advisers for his dogged disarming of insurgents' bombs and was profiled in USA TODAY in July.
Asaad, an explosives expert with the Interior Ministry, was killed last week, not by bomb shrapnel but from a gunshot wound to the gut.
Gunmen ambushed him down the road from his home in southern Baghdad on Aug. 30. Officials are investigating the incident but believe Asaad was targeted by insurgents because of his job, said Brig. Hussein Muhssin, his supervisor.
Asaad was the eighth person in his unit to be killed either by bombs or insurgents. "I lost one of the best members of our department," Muhssin said. "He was so devoted to his work, very daring, brave and smart. But he was always in a rush. I warned him so many times our work needs to be cautious, accurate."
U.S. troops operating in Iraq are working to hand over security responsibilities to Iraqi units such as Asaad's. An increasing number of Iraqi troops are manning checkpoints, policing streets, leading raids on suspected insurgent hide-outs and disarming roadside bombs....Asaad had worked as an explosives expert with the Interior Ministry under Saddam Hussein. He lost his job in 2003, when former members of the ruling Baath Party were expunged from government under the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, Muhssin said. But U.S. military officials rehired him last fall and dispatched him to Florida for explosives training, he said.
Armed with little more than a pocket tool, Asaad grew adept at defusing roadside bombs, the weapon of choice for insurgents, Muhssin said. Each month, he would hand over to U.S. explosives experts about 120 munitions including mortar and artillery shells collected from defused roadside bombs, said Maj. Alayne Conway, a spokeswoman with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which worked with Asaad.
"I can't just leave these bombs in all these neighborhoods," Asaad said in July. "I want to live in a peaceful Iraq someday."
In July, Asaad neutralized a bomb worn by a would-be suicide bomber. The bomber had been hit with shrapnel from another suicide bomber, leaving him nearly unconscious. Asaad disarmed the bomb and slipped the vest off the assailant to the cheers of U.S. and Iraqi personnel watching from a distance near the main entrance to the Green Zone.
"He was setting a standard for other Iraqis to follow," Conway said. "He knew that if he didn't do it, no one else would."
Asaad's success at his job was also making him a target among insurgents. He had received several threats the past few months, Muhssin said....