Washington Post: Iranian-backed groups are behind the assassination of al-Hashemi

Reports indicated that groups linked to Iran were responsible for the assassination of the Iraqi expert Hisham al-Hashemi, and said that they had been threatening him for a long time as a result of his opposing positions.

Iraqi officials told the Washington Post that the prominent Iraqi researcher Hisham al--Hashemi was killed yesterday evening Monday outside his home in Baghdad.

The newspaper, in its report, quoting a security official, who did not want to be named, said that the prominent Iraqi researcher was shot, and that the gunmen waited for him outside his home on a motorbike, then attacked him, and then the attackers fled the scene.

No group has claimed responsibility for the assassination, but for many in Iraq, this assassination has confirmed the fact that there has been a slow campaign of assassinations by armed groups against its critics.

Hashemi, 47, was a frequent target of propaganda by Iranian-backed groups, and his friends and colleagues said he faced a growing wave of threats, and the researcher was among the world's leading experts on ISIS, and advised the Iraqi government on its response.

More recently, he has spoken of impunity for Iranian-backed groups in Iraq.

The new Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kazimi, blamed armed armed groups outside the law, vowing in a statement to track down and prosecute them.

Late on Monday, the US embassy in Baghdad urged al-Kazimi to keep his promise, and said in a Facebook post, "We call on the Iraqi government to bring those responsible for his murder to justice quickly."

"Watching colleagues of Ph.D. Hisham burst into tears, trying to comment on his assassination, is something that reveals who he is, and every time I met him he encouraged me to do more work and search for new opportunities for service," The International Crisis Group chief analyst said Lahib Hegel.

Although the groups associated with Iran are strong here, their movement has been subjected to a series of setbacks since the end of last year, especially after the killing of its leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a US raid by a drone, which also resulted in the killing of the Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani in January. Al-Kazimi vowed to end armed groups ’attacks on US interests and other Western military and diplomatic facilities, unlike his predecessor Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who was unable or unwilling to confront armed groups.

For a time, last November, when Abdel-Mahdi was in power and the mass protests attacking the influence of Iranian-backed groups, Hashemi disappeared from the airwaves, and he told his acquaintances that he had been threatened by the Hezbollah Brigades, and recently, threats increased, he said. Hashemi's friends, has become more vulnerable.

When al-Kazimi ordered the launch of an unprecedented raid on Hezbollah headquarters last week, due to evidence that they were planning new attacks, Al-Hashemi was among the first to share full details on social media.

Experts say that al-Kazimi will now face an uphill battle to rein in these groups, and in a post on Facebook on Sunday, Hashemi said that the recent change in the Iraqi political leadership has affected the movement's power linked to Iran in Iraq. He wrote that their recent attacks were driven by "revenge and tampering."



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