Iraqi researcher Hisham al-Hashemi who was shot dead by unknown gunmen on Monday had received death threats from Iraq’s Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia about a month ago, according to an Iraqi activist.
Al-Hashemi, 47, was killed Monday evening after three gunmen on two motorcycles fired at him from meters away near his home in the capital Baghdad. Al-Hashemi was an authoritative voice on Sunni extremist factions including ISIS terror group but was also frequently consulted by media and foreign governments on domestic Iraqi politics and Shia armed groups.
Iraqi activist Ghaith al-Tamimi tweeted screenshots of a WhatsApp conversation between him and al-Hashemi that showed the slain researcher saying he received death threats from the pro-Iran Kata’ib Hezbollah.
كما وعدت وفاءً لك يا هشام @hushamalhashimi لن اسكت واشترك في قتلك عن طريق اخفاء الادلة عن الرأي العام.— غيث التميمي GHAITH ALTAMIMI (@altamimi1981222) July 6, 2020
دم هشام مسؤوليتنا يا شباب يجب ان لا نسكت على جرائمهم، يجب أن لا ينام القتلة آمنين.
الأخ الكاظمي @MAKadhimi مسؤوليتك الآن، ولدينا مزيد! pic.twitter.com/RIrzAn4Ibk
“I need your urgent advice … Kata’ib Hezbollah has threatened to assassinate me,” al-Hashemi told al-Tamimi on WhatsApp.
Al-Hashemi then asks for al-Tamimi’s advice on how to deal with the threat, after which al-Tamimi asks al-Hashemi if they can speak over the phone.
The WhatsApp conversation is from about a month ago, al-Tamimi told the US-based Arabic-language network Alhurra, adding that they had an hour-long phone conversation after the WhatsApp chat.
Al-Tamimi said he advised al-Hashemi to leave Iraq “by any means.”
Fearing for his life, al-Hashemi decided to leave Iraq but later changed his mind believing that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government would “create a new environment for understanding in Iraq” and that he should be present at this stage in the country, according to al-Tamimi.
“I will not be quiet and take part in your killing by concealing evidence from the public,” al-Tamimi tweeted.
In an earlier tweet, al-Tamimi said he has been threatened by the same group that killed al-Hashemi for having proof of the group’s culpability in al-Hashemi’s killing.
رئيس الوزراء @MAKadhimi لدي وثائق تحدد الجهة المتورطة بقتل @hushamalhashimi #هشام_الهاشمي زودني بها الشهيد هشام وانا على أتم الاستعداد لتزويدكم بكافة التفاصيل، وقد تم تهديدي قبل قليل من نفس الجهة بسبب اعلاني عن وجود الوثائق.— غيث التميمي GHAITH ALTAMIMI (@altamimi1981222) July 6, 2020
ننتظر منك الموقف واذا قتلت فانت مسؤول عن دمي ودم هشام
“I say to Hisham, I will not be silenced and will not let you down … Kata’ib Hezbollah killed Hisham,” al-Tamimi told Alhurra.
PM al-Kadhimi has vowed to bring the killers of al-Hashemi to justice.
Al-Hashemi was informally working as an advisor to al-Kadhimi, according to a government official.
Al-Hashemi had come out strongly in favor of the popular protests that erupted across Baghdad and Iraq’s Shia-majority south in October, which had slammed the government as corrupt, inefficient and beholden to neighboring Iran.