Who killed Hisham al-Hashimi? This is not an absurd question as it is related to a murder in Baghdad, and it’s not be an absurd question given the incitement campaigns against the man by the Popular Mobilization’s media, including TV channels and websites representing the different factions. These campaigns were carried out a few days before his murder. It would also not be an absurd question if we read his articles criticizing Iran’s influence in Iraq. More importantly, it can not be considered an absurd question after his friend had published a threatening message that Hisham received from the “Hezbollah” brigades in Iraq! It is the story of a declared murder. The crime took place in the early evening, and the videotape revealed that the murder was easily done, as four men in a big SUV ―led by a motorcycle― waited for Hisham in front of his house, in the Zayouna neighborhood, Baghdad to kill him with their machine guns.
To complete the picture, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) announced that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
But why did they kill Hisham? The man was not a threat to anyone! Some friends in Baghdad assumed it was a message to Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, and President, Barham Salih. What kind of nonsense is this? Sending a message by murdering an innocent man, whose enthusiasm for Iraq drove him to appear on screens, websites, and research centres to speak and point to various matters, with a serious interest in research and investigation. A man whose Islamic beginnings led him to a bitter rivalry with his past, a fellow who kept warning Iraq and its authorities that ISIS is still there in the desert, and that its resurgence is only a matter of time as long as sectarianism still shapes Iraq’s present. Moreover, he warned that hunger caused by the corruption and apportionment system, will be easily exploited by the organization.
Yes, it is a message to Salih and Al-Kadhimi, the men who always welcomed Hisham and listened to his fears for Iraq. These are the two men that Hisham wanted us to confront with what we saw during our visits to Baghdad. Hisham used to gently voice his idea amid Baghdad’s loud voices, without overdoing it, or compromising its impact and clarity.
They are not suffering Hisham’s loss alone. We, as well as the whole of Iraq, share their pain. We, whom he welcomed once we stepped into Baghdad Airport on our last visit, and roamed around with, in the Mujahideen’s environments ―including amongst their widows and clan elders― and walked with for a whole week, exploring the security files that he had rigorously checked.
We were in “safe hands,” as our mutual friend, Mushreq Abbas, told us. “Hisham will show you Iraq in a new light, and will let you listen to voices of the far desert, which extends to the outskirts of Baghdad,” he told us. We, in turn, used to take him to other spots he ―as a researcher in Islamic groups― never visited, and a mysterious contentment used to fill his heart; as Baghdad is a wide, big city that he didn’t mind rediscovering with the help of some foreigners like us.
When we took him to the house of our friend ―whom he had never met before― Hanaa Edward in Karrada, he was proud to find people who set up a house in Baghdad to take in women fleeing the danger of getting killed by their uncles and escaping their clan’s injustices.
But when he returned from the alienation he had to experience because of our companionship, he kept showing us maps and discussing in detail the exotic, harsh nature of the Western Sahara. Moreover, he continued to remind us of his idea; that eliminating “ISIS” in this desert could not be possible, unless the process was accompanied by a political settlement that would make the existence of ISIS in these sand grooves an utter nonsense. The Western Sahara, according to him, was a desert meant for allowing people waiting to pounce, and there are a number of people in cities, gearing up to welcome ISIS whenever they have a chance.
They killed this man, wanting to deliver a message! They killed one of Baghdad’s many tales always leading to a bloody end. The murder was recorded from the beginning to the very end, and the TV channels that paved allowed it’s broadcast, didn’t even shed any crocodile tears to his murder. The easy murder ―like every other treachery incident we’ve witnessed― was carried out according to a stated course of preparation and readiness. The crime was then crowned by ISIS’s statement; an extension of a performance that has become dull due to its overuse.
They killed the man who was passionate about Baghdad, its people, architecture, river, Karkh and Rusafa City. The man who did his best to amaze us with his city which has always expelled him from the days of Saddam Hussein, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to Nouri al-Maliki and his companions.
Hisham represented our last journey to Baghdad and the last thing we knew about it. Here are our cities which keep on killing us, and here we are, Hisham, turning into walking messages between Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad. The message is, certainly, delivered, and Hisham is now dead.