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Iraq arrests killer of respected analyst

Hisham al-Hashimi was gunned down outside his Baghdad apartment in July 2020.
Hisham al-Hashimi mourned in 2020

Iraq's prime minister on Friday announced police had arrested the man who last year shot dead prominent analyst and government adviser, Hisham al-Hashimi.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announed on Iraqi television Friday that Hashimi’s killer had been arrested. Iraqi media reported that four men involved in the murder have been arrested, and that an employee of Iraq’s Interior Ministry, Ahmed Hamdawi al-Kinani, had confessed to the killing.

Al-Iraqiyya TV showed what it said was footage of the suspected killer confessing to the murder. A man identifying himself as Ahmed Hamdawi al-Kinani, a first lieutenant in the ministry, said he was behind the killing.

Kinani claimed he had been assigned to the task, and that the group involved traveled from the Bo'aitga area to Baghdad to carry out the killing. Bo'aitga is where Kataib Hezbollah's headquarters is located and it's fully under the group's control.

“We promised to arrest the killers,” Kadhimi tweeted Friday, adding, “We fulfilled our promise.”

The shooter, who has long been suspected to be a member of powerful Iraqi militias Hashimi had criticized, was arrested two weeks ago, The Associated Press reported. At least six others suspected of involvement in the murder are still at large, according to the AP’s sources.

Hashimi’s murder was captured on surveillance camera video outside his apartment the evening of July 6, 2020. The incident appalled the Iraqi public and Western analysts alike, raising demands for accountability and drawing condemnation from the US State Department.

Kadhimi has long vowed that those behind the killing would be brought to justice. The killing occurred just two months into the prime minister’s term, marking a grim early test for the promising new leader.

Hashimi was among the most prominent and highly-regarded analysts covering Iraqi politics and security, and advised the government during Iraq’s US-assisted fight against the Islamic State.

He was a member of the nongovernmental Iraq Advisory Council and frequently offered insights to researchers and reporters alike, including at Al-Monitor.

No specific militia connection to Kinani has been yet announced by Iraqi authorities, though members of powerful militias are common throughout government ministries and even security forces.

The head of the Interior Ministry’s Falcon Intelligence Cell, famous for infiltrating and disrupting IS networks, was dismissed earlier this year under unclear circumstances.

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