Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

AP , Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Mourners attend a symbolic funeral for slain Iraqi jihadism expert Hisham al-Hashemi, who was shot d
Mourners attend a symbolic funeral for slain Iraqi jihadism expert Hisham al-Hashemi, who was shot dead yesterday outside his house in the Iraqi capital, on July 7, 2020 at Baghdad's Tahrir square. (AFP)

Iraqi mourners and relatives on Tuesday carried the body of a respected analyst shot and killed the previous night in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias. Many Iraqis expressed their shock over the slaying.

Hisham al-Hashimi, 47, was gunned down on Monday night outside his home in Baghdad's Zeyouneh neighborhood. His casket, draped in the Iraqi flag, was taken to his family home before being driven to the burial site.

Al-Hashimi, a leading expert on the Islamic State group and other militant organization, was a regular fixture on Iraqi television and his expertise was often sought by government officials, journalists and researchers.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, which comes weeks after he confided to close friends that he had received threats from militia groups. The slaying also coincides with a spate of rocket attacks targeting U.S. interests that has been blamed on Iran-backed armed groups.

Authorities launched a raid last week in Baghdad, in which they detained 14 members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah group, suspected of orchestrating the attacks. All but one detainees were released days later.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces would ``spare no effort'' in pursuing al-Hashimi's killers.

Hours after al-Hashimi's killing, authorities fired the top police officer for Zeyouneh and launched an investigation into his activities, according to an order from the prime minister's office, seen by The Associated Press.

Condemnations from Iraqi officials poured in as shock reverberated across the country at the news of al-Hashimi's killing.

Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, said ``authorities must find the perpetrators of this terror act and bring them to justice,'' in a tweet on Tuesday.

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