The assassination of Iraqi political researcher Hisham al-Hashimi came as a shock to Iraqi and Arab societies, as unknown persons killed him after he left a television interview in which he talked about the Katyusha cells that are protected by some pro-Iranian factions that violate his country’s sovereignty. The attackers did not give him the opportunity to reach his home, but immediately shot him near his house in the Zayouna neighborhood in eastern Baghdad.
Iraqi government officials described the assassination as intentional, but they did not formally charge a certain group, pending the outcome of the investigation committee that Iraqi Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanimi ordered to be formed to uncover the circumstances of the assassination.
In a video clip of incident that has circulated on social media, unknown persons appeared on a motorbike, and then one of them went to Hashimi’s car and shot him. Another video showed a tragic scene in which Hashimi’s three children appeared extracting his body from the car.
The incident took place at a time of heightened tension between the new government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and armed factions backed by Tehran.
Hashimi worked informally as a consultant to the Kadhimi government, and he had also consulted the government of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
In late 2019, media outlets linked to the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) had published lists of media figures, including Hashimi, accusing them of “working for the American embassy”.
Hashimi attracted a great amount of hostility from Kata’ib Hezbollah after he revealed the identity of Abu Ali al-Askari, a senior commander in the Iraqi militia, despite the latter’s attempt to keep his real name secret in order to escape the consequences of the threats he made.
“Abu Ali al-Askari’s name is probably Hussein Moaines, a member of the Shura Council of Kata’ib Hezbollah,” Hashimi had tweeted, attaching a picture of the militia leader.
Iraqi Citizens’ Movement leader Ghaith al-Tamimi, who was close to Hashimi, tweeted the last messages he received showing Hashimi’s exposure of previous threats made by Kata’ib Hezbollah, writing, “Out of loyalty to you, Hisham, I will not be silent and participate in your killing by hiding the evidence from public opinion… Hisham’s blood is our responsibility… We must not be silent about their crimes. The killers must not sleep safely.”
In his interview with the US-based satellite channel Alhurra, Tamimi confirmed that Hashimi had informed him of receiving death threats from Kata’ib Hezbollah through a well-known and trusted political party.