Iraqi officials claim killer of prominent analyst arrested

Iraqi officials claim killer of prominent analyst arrested

Iraqi officials say police arrested the gunman in the drive-by murder of a prominent analyst and public commentator last year

BAGHDAD – A year later, Iraqi police arrested the gunman for the murder of a prominent public commentator whose killing sent shockwaves across the country, officials said Friday. Iraq’s prime minister said that with the arrest, his government had fulfilled its promise to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Hisham al-Hashimi was gunned down outside his home in Baghdad last July during a drive-by shooting that involved two assailants on a motorcycle. He was a well-connected security analyst who appeared regularly on Iraqi television and whose expertise was sought out by government officials, journalists and researchers.

The murder of 47-year-old al-Hashimi – whose shooting was caught on a surveillance camera – contributed to a prevailing atmosphere of intimidation and fear among activists in Iraq and highlighted the government’s struggle to bring armed groups to line.

Two security officials told The Associated Press that one of the men on the motorcycle, the gunman, was arrested two weeks ago and confessed to the crime before an investigating judge. The man was linked to a militia group, they said, but did not name which one.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi tweeted the development: “We promised to arrest the murderers of Hisham al-Hashimi. We have kept the promise.”

Later Friday, state television station Iraqiya broadcast footage of the alleged suspect, which shows him confessing to his alleged crime. The man identifies in the video as Ahmed Hamdawi Al-Kinani, a police officer with the rank of First Lieutenant of the Ministry of Interior.

According to Iraqi law, he will appear in court after his confession. He did not implicate any militia group in his confession.

It is not uncommon for officers and officials in Iraq to have ties to militias operating without or with the consent of the state. The government has struggled to govern them, in part because they are so entrenched in the state fabric.

Security forces are still looking for at least six other individuals involved in the shooting, some of whom are abroad, the two officials told the AP. In his confession, al-Kinani said he had worked with four other accomplices.

Killing of activists is ubiquitous in Iraq, with many blaming Iran-backed militias. Al-Hashimi, who had been working on a report on Iran-backed groups within the Iraqi establishment before his assassination, had reportedly received threats from such groups.

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