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Hicham al-Hachémi, specialist in jihadist movements including the Islamic State (IS) group, was assassinated on Monday evening outside his home in Baghdad, causing a wave of indignation in Iraq and beyond.
Hachémi, a 47-year-old father, appeared daily in local or international media to comment on the activity of jihadist groups, Iraqi politics and the actions of the Shiite armed factions pro Iran .
This native of Baghdad, round face and shaved head, was also consulted by many chancelleries and Iraqi political figures.
Very introduced in Sunni circles as Shiites, but also among the Kurds - like the president of Iraq Barham Saleh whom he was close to - he was on several occasions the organizer of reconciliation meetings between different factions and personalities, politically or denominational opposites.
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Hicham al-Hachémi "is dead and his body is in the hospital morgue," said General Saad Maan, communications director of Interior Ministry .
His body bore the marks of several bullets in various places, a medical source told AFP .
One of the investigators in charge of the case told AFP that Hachémi was murdered outside his home in the Zayyouna district, in eastern Baghdad.
"He was about to get into his car when three armed men aboard two mopeds fired and injured him," he added. "They then approached and shot him in the head with four point-blank shots."
A valued man
"The cowards murdered my friend and one of the most brilliant researchers in Iraq, Hicham al-Hachémi, I am shocked", tweeted Harith Hasan, himself a researcher and today advisor to the Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi.
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On social networks, messages of condolence to his family and praise rained, both to a recognized expert who wrote for the Chatham House research centers in London and the Center for Global Policy in Washington, among others, than to a man appreciated for his humor and his modesty.
The representative of ONU in Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said she was "shocked" by this "assassination".
"We strongly condemn this cowardly and excruciating act," she wrote on Twitter. "I call on the government to quickly identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice."
Mr. Kazimi said "promise the authors to find them". "We will not allow the assassinations to return to Iraq," he added in an evening statement.
The assassinations of Iraqi personalities, if they were legion during the years of civil war from 2006 to 2009, practiced both by the Shiite factions and by the jihadists, are now very rare.
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Hashémi had vigorously taken a stand in favor of the popular revolt launched last October which demanded a total overhaul of the Iraqi political system and denounced the Iranian stranglehold on Baghdad.
During the six months of protest, several dozen activists were murdered by armed men, often on mopeds, near their home. Authorities continue to claim that they cannot identify the perpetrators.
In September, even before the unprecedented autumn protests broke out, Hashemi had been threatened with death with 13 other Iraqi figures by pro-Iran online groups.
In a cyber harassment campaign, they attacked him and the others, accusing them of being "collaborators", "traitors to the fatherland", "pro-Israel" and "pro-Americans".
Monday evening, the Hachd al-Chaabi, a coalition of pro-Iran paramilitaries now integrated into the state, denounced the assassination, pointing the finger at the jihadists.
"The security forces must find the terrorist group which murdered Hicham al-Hachémi, one of the best experts of the IS who played a big role in the light of its secrets", claims a press release from Hachd .
07/06/2020 22:01:35 - Baghdad (AFP) - © 2020 AFP
In Iraq, a surprise visit against the background of the economic and health crisis for Jean Yves Le Drian .
© Bertrand GUAY / AFP The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is the first Western representative to visit Iraq since the formation of the current Iraqi government. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian is visiting Iraq, in Baghdad. No official program has been announced on the French side.