The assassination of Iraqi jihadism expert Hisham al-Hashemi

Iraqi authorities have told AFP that a prominent jihadist, Hisham al-Hashemi, was shot dead outside his home in Baghdad on Monday.

Hashemi is the official voice on Sunni jihadi groups, including the Islamic State group, but is often advised by the media and foreign governments on domestic Iraqi politics and Shia armed groups.

The investigator assigned to the murder told AFP that 47-year-old Hashmi was walking out of his home in East Baghdad when he was traveling in his car.

Hashimi was wounded and hit in the back of his car, but the gunmen went to him and shot him four times in the head.

A medical source at the hospital confirmed to AFP that Hasami "had bullet wounds to many parts of the body."

"He passed away and his body is now in the hospital freezer," said Saad Mann, head of the ministry's media relations department.

- no stranger to threats -

Born in Baghdad, Hashmi has published several books on jihad and has since worked with top research centers, including Chatham House in London and most recently the Global Policy Center for Washington.

He came out strongly in October in favor of popular protests spreading in the Shia-majority south of Baghdad and Iraq, which condemned the government for corrupt, incompetent, and neighboring Iran.

More than 500 people have died in protest-related violence, including several prominent activists who have moved through rallies in Baghdad, Basra and other cities in the south.

High-level political killings have been rare in recent years.

But Hashemi is no stranger to threats.

In September, anonymous online accounts accused him and a dozen other Iraqi operatives, investigators, and journalists of "cooperating with Israel."

In April, anonymous Twitter users considered him close to the US government.

But his assassination sent shock waves across Iraq.

From protesters and activists to foreign ambassadors and the United Nations, many condoled him.

“The cowards killed my friend and one of Iraq's most talented researchers, Hisham al-Hashmi.

- 'cowardly action' -

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Qadimi has vowed to capture the Hasami assassins.

Kadima said in a statement: "We pledge to accompany their killers to get the appropriate punishment. We will not allow the killings to return to Iraq for a second."

Jeanine Haines-Plaschart, a top UN official in Iraq, described the killing as "an act of cowardice."

"Our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. I urge the government to quickly identify the perpetrators and provide them justice," he wrote.

And Iraq's Hashed al-Shabby, a government-sponsored network of militias close to Iraq, has issued a statement mourning Hashemi's death.

"We want the security forces to pursue this crime and capture the terrorist organization that killed Hasami, who is regarded as one of the leading writers and experts of IS terrorist groups, and whose secrets have been exposed so much.

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