Iraqi officials say killer of prominent analyst arrested

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A year later, Iraqi police arrested the gunman in the murder of a prominent public commentator whose murder sent shock waves across the country, officials said on Friday. The Iraqi prime minister said that with this arrest, his government had kept its promise to bring the culprits to justice.

Hisham al-Hashimi was shot dead in July outside his Baghdad home in a drive-by shooting involving two motorcycle attackers. He was a well-connected security analyst who appeared regularly on Iraqi television and whose expertise was sought after by government officials, journalists and researchers.

The assassination of al-Hashimi, 47, whose shooting was caught on surveillance camera, helped create a climate of intimidation and fear among militants in Iraq and highlighted the government’s struggle to align armed groups.

In this July 12, 2020 file photo, a protester prays in front of a poster showing Hisham al-Hashimi an Iraqi analyst who was a leading expert on Islamic State and other armed groups who was shot dead in Baghdad.  (AP Photo / Khalid Mohammed)
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In this July 12, 2020 file photo, a protester prays in front of a poster showing Hisham al-Hashimi an Iraqi analyst who was a leading expert on Islamic State and other armed groups who was shot dead in Baghdad. (AP Photo / Khalid Mohammed)

Two security officials told The Associated Press that one of the men on motorcycles, the gunman, was arrested two weeks ago and confessed to the crime before an examining magistrate. The man was linked to a militia, they said, but did not name which one.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi tweeted the development: “We promised to stop the assassins of Hisham al-Hashimi. We kept the promise.”

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Later on Friday, the Iraqiya State TV channel broadcast footage of the suspected suspect, showing him confessing to his alleged crime. The man identifies himself in the video as Ahmed Hamdawi Al-Kinani, a police officer with the rank of first lieutenant in the interior ministry.

According to Iraqi law, he will be put on trial for conviction following his confession. He did not imply any militia in his confession.

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It is not uncommon for officers and officials in Iraq to have ties to militias working without or with state endorsement. The government has struggled to bring them under control, in part because they are so ingrained in the structure of the state.

Security forces are still looking for at least six other people linked to the shooting, some of whom are believed to be overseas, the two officials told the PA. In his confession, al-Kinani said he worked with four other accomplices.

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Killings of activists are ubiquitous in Iraq, and many blame Iranian-backed militias. Al-Hashimi, who had worked on a report on Iranian-backed groups within the Iraqi establishment before he was killed, reportedly received threats from those groups.

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