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Prominent Iraqi analyst shot dead after receiving threats from pro-Iran militias

Popular Mobilization Forces with Iranian advisors during Hawija offensive in 2017. (Dlshad Anwar/Voice of America/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A leading Iraqi political analyst was assassinated on July 6 outside his home in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias.

Gunmen on a motorcycle fired shots at Hisham al-Hashimi, 47, in the Iraqi capital’s Zeyouneh area and fled the scene.

Hashimi was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

He was one of the world’s most prominent analysts of the Islamic State extremist group, Al-Qaeda, and militia groups in Iraq.

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Hashimi appeared regularly on television and his expertise was sought after by government officials, journalists, and researchers.

Recently he had spoken out against the power of Iran-backed militias and corruption among Iraq’s political elite.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, but friends and family say he had recently faced threats from Iran-backed militias.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a statement that security forces would “spare no effort” in pursuing the killers of the political analyst.

“We will work with all our efforts to confine arms to the state, so that no force will rise above the rule of law,” the statement said.

Iraq’s state paramilitary organization, which is dominated by Iran-backed groups, also demanded an investigation into Hashimi’s death.

Since taking up office in May, Kadhimi has vowed to rein in Iran-backed militias, which are accused of carrying out rocket attacks on U.S. military and diplomatic facilities.

Last week, security forces detained 14 members of the Iran-aligned Kataib Hezbollah group during a raid in Baghdad, saying that they were planning attacks on U.S. interests.

Under pressure, the government released all but one of the militia members days later, in a sign of how difficult it will be for the state to control paramilitary groups.