Suspected militia members shoot local Iraqi activist outside his home

Suspected militia members shoot local Iraqi activist outside his home
2 min read
08 August, 2021
Gunmen believed to be from pro-Iranian Iraqi militias have shot local Qassem Bahloul Al-Tamimi in the southern Iraqi city of Al-Kut, seriously wounding him.
Dozens of Iraqi anti-corruption activists have been assassinated by militias [Getty]

Prominent Iraqi activist Qassem Bahloul Al-Tamimi was shot by gunmen in an attempted assassination in the city of Al-Kut, in the southern Iraqi province of Wasit on Saturday. 

Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Al-Tamimi near his house, hitting him twice, after which the activist was rushed to hospital where his condition is said to be serious. 

The attackers, who managed to flee the scene, are suspected of belonging to one of the influential pro-Iran militias in the area. 

A local police officer, who spoke to The New Arab’s Arabic-language service confirmed that pro-Iran militia members were the main suspects. 

“An investigation is currently underway into the incident…, and the incident bears the hallmarks of the powerful militias in the governorate,” said the unnamed officer.

According to a Twitter user who posted news of the attack, two days before the incident Al-Tamimi told his supporters that a car he knew belonged to the armed militias was watching his house and following him. 

Other local activists in the area also accused the militias, while also blaming security services for not providing Al-Tamimi with adequate protection. 

“Al-Tamimi received threats on his personal Facebook page from an armed group that threatened to kill him, if he continued to organise demonstrations and popular protests,” local activist Salem Al-Rikabi told The New Arab's Arabic service. 

Perspectives

“Al-Tamimi informed the police at the time, and said they were responsible for providing him with protection,” he added. 

Assassinations and attempted assassinations of local activists have happened in numerous provinces of Iraq where popular demonstrations against government corruption have happened. However, local authorities have so far not made meaningful efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has previously reported that between October 2019, when protests erupted, and 15 May 2021, 48 assassinations of activists were documented but the true figure is believed to be much higher. 

At least 700 people are known to have died during the demonstrations that occurred in Iraq, predominantly in the southern provinces, and a further 22,000 have been injured, according to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission.

Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, has repeatedly promised to protect activists, but the attacks are ongoing with few perpetrators being arrested.