Thanks Maury for posting the link.
'As the suicide bomber clutched the detonator to his explosive belt, preparing to spray fire and shrapnel into a religious procession here, an Iraqi police officer named Bilal Ali Muhammad faced a choice between his own life and something larger.
If he ran and took cover, Mr. Muhammad, 31, had a chance to save himself, to continue supporting his widowed mother, to help put his younger brother through college and to watch his three young daughters grow up.
Instead, the officer — a Sunni Muslim — threw himself onto the bomber, blunting the explosion’s impact on the Shiite worshipers.
“He gave his soul to the country,” said his mother, Alaahin Hassan, holding two of his daughters in her lap as dozens of black-veiled women filled her living room this week with ritualized wails of grief. “He believed in God. That made him great.”
In a country fractured by sect and ethnicity, from villages like this all the way to the government that is finally forming in Baghdad, Mr. Muhammad’s last act was a burst of heroism and humanity set against the viciousness that still stalks Iraq.
Many Iraqis see the police and the army as corrupt, incompetent and brutal, still unprepared to secure the country as the Americans withdraw over the next year. But Mr. Muhammad’s death, one of thousands among Iraqi security forces, offers a counterpoint to that view.
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Muhammad was guarding the edge of an annual religious celebration of Ashura as Shiites waved green and black banners and beat drums to commemorate the killing of one of their sect’s foundational members in A.D. 680. The ceremonies have been ripe targets for Sunni insurgents, and Iraq’s leaders have deployed swarms of security forces this year to guard against attacks.
At 2:30 p.m., according to witnesses and police officials, Mr. Muhammad spotted a suspicious man approaching the crowd, his hand wedged into his pocket.
Mr. Muhammad, a police officer for five years, stopped the man and asked him, What do you have in your pocket? The man replied, It’s none of your business.
Pulling open the man’s jacket, Mr. Muhammad found an explosive belt strapped to his chest. Whether from instinct or training, or sheer lack of any other options, he acted in that instant.
Shouting warnings to the crowd, he wrapped his arms around the bomber. As both men tumbled to the dirt, the explosion ripped through their bodies and raked the street, scarring the white walls of a schoolyard.
A woman and her granddaughter sitting nearby were killed and a dozen others were wounded. But the police said the death toll would have been drastically higher had Mr. Muhammad not thrown himself onto the bomber.
“He’s a hero,” said Mr. Muhammad’s uncle, Hamza Hassan, who spent the day welcoming well-wishers to a funeral tent outside Mr. Muhammad’s family home here in this farming town near the Iranian border. “The only choice was to become a martyr.”
Since 2004, about 2,200 police officers have been killed here in Diyala, a northeastern province that is a stronghold of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and a crucible of Iraq’s volatile mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. They have been killed in broad offensives against police stations, by magnetic bombs under their cars, by pistol shots at checkpoints.
At least three of them, confronting suicide bombers, have made the extraordinary decision to wrap their arms around their killers to absorb the blast.'