Iraqis mourning assassinated researcher Hisham al-Hashemi call Khamenei ‘murderer’

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Iraqi protesters mourning slain researcher Hisham al-Hashemi in the capital Baghdad slammed Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday calling him a “murderer” and accused an Iran-backed militia of killing al-Hashemi.

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. He 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 Iran-backed militias in the country.

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The protesters chanted slogans against Iraq’s Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, the organization that they believe was behind al-Hashemi’s assassination. “There is only one God, Hezbollah is the enemy of God,” they chanted in Baghdad’s Tahrir square.

The protesters also had a poster of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with blood flowing from his mouth.

The poster called on Iraqis to post on social media using an Arabic hashtag that reads “Khamenei is a murderer and his militias are illegitimate.”

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Iranian protesters had a similar chant in protests earlier this year. “Khamenei is a murderer and his leadership is illegitimate,” protesters in Iran chanted in the protests that followed Iran’s admission to downing a passenger plane in January after three days of denial.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is one of dozens of militias supported by Iran in Iraq. The group has been central in the proxy conflict between Iran and the US in Iraq, having carried out a series of attacks against US-led forces in Iraq that led to the US retaliating by killing Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Kata’ib Hezbollah’s former leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in January.

According to one Iraqi activist, al-Hashemi received death threats from Kata’ib Hezbollah about a month ago.

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