Earlier this month, a prominent researcher and security expert in Iraq, who was close to the new prime minister and to Western governments, was gunned down outside his home in Baghdad.
While the identify of his assailants remains unknown, Hisham al-Hashimi had many enemies, given his history of speaking out against the Islamic State and against Iraq’s powerful Shiite militias. In the weeks leading up to his murder, he told friends and relatives that he had received serious threats from both Sunni and Shiite extremists.
His associates, as well as Iraqi government officials, have focused in particular on Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia that reportedly threatened to “physically eliminate” Hashimi. The group has denied any involvement in the assassination, but Hashimi had collected detailed information about the group and often shared his research with Western governments and the Iraqi political elite, including Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who assumed office in May and has pledged to take a tougher stance against the militias.