Ten days after their only son sacrificed himself to stop a suicide bomber from blowing himself up in a crowded mosque in Babil province, the parents of Iraqi soldier Alaa al-Janabi find solace in the continuous flow of support from friends, neighbours and Iraqi officials.
Alaa, a Babil policeman and father of four, saved dozens of lives on June 26th when he blocked the path of a suicide bomber in an auto rickshaw that was attempting to enter a mosque in the Musayeb district of Babil.
The mosque was swarming with scores of worshippers participating in Eid al-Fitr prayers.
The officer hugged the suicide bomber to prevent him from entering the mosque, but not before the terrorist detonated his explosive belt and killed them both.
"My son was on duty at a checkpoint close to the Musayeb mosque when he stopped the attacker," Abdul Hussein Abbas Hassan al-Janabi, the victim's father, told Diyaruna.
The perpetrator was riding a rickshaw driven by another individual and concealing an explosive belt wrapped around his waist as he tried to pass through the checkpoint, al-Janabi said.
"When my son sensed something was amiss with that individual, he hurried to stop him," he said, but the suicide bomber blew himself up on the spot.
Alaa, the suicide bomber and the driver were all killed in the attack, and one other policeman was injured.
"Thanks to my son’s alertness and bravery, a horrific tragedy was averted that could have killed scores of worshippers," al-Janabi said.
Heroism in the face of sectarianism
The attacker's objective was to conduct a big attack on Eid when people were performing religious rituals in order to strike at the unity of Iraqis and sow sectarianism among them, al-Janabi said.
"What my son did was a badge of honour for his family, his clan and all Iraqis," he said.
"We are proud of his sacrifice, which is yet another example of how brave our security forces are and their willingness to sacrifice themselves defending their people," he said.
Al-Janabi said he will not spare any effort "to raise my grandchildren and bring them up to love their country and people".
He expressed his gratitude for the show of support that eased his family's suffering during this time: "I received lots of calls from state officials, officers, acquaintances and friends."
The Iraqi government also has allocated a pension and financial support for his family, al-Janabi said.
Source of pride
Khalida Jadou, the victim's mother, told Diyaruna her son has become a "national symbol" and that "his blood has saved innocent lives and prevented catastrophes for other families".
"My son died for his country and is no different than other heroes dying on the battlefield to save us from terrorists so that peace and stability can reign in our country," she said with a monotone voice.
"My son was a source of pride during his life and continues to be so after his martyrdom," Jadou said.
"This heroic act is yet another example of the bravery of our fighters and their willingness to sacrifice themselves to protect their fellow countrymen," said Iraqi MP Majed al-Gharawi, who serves on the parliamentary security and defence committee.
This is the highest level of "generosity and altruism", he told Diyaruna.
Alaa's sacrifice "sends a clear message to the terrorists that Iraqis of all backgrounds are united despite all attempts to shatter national unity and incite sectarian strife", al-Gharawi said.