SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: July 06, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances


Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 6, 2020, unidentified gunmen assassinated Dr. Hisham al-Hashemi, a prominent historian, journalist, and security analyst.

A group of three gunmen riding on motorcycles reportedly fired multiple times at Hashemi outside his home in Baghdad. Hashemi (also written as “Hashimi”) was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. As of this report, an investigation is reportedly underway.

Hashemi gained international acclaim for his expertise on extremist and terrorist groups in Iraq. Sources indicate that he regularly spoke on television programs and advised Iraqi officials on counter-terrorism matters.

In recent weeks, Hashemi was reportedly the target of repeated threats in apparent response to his reporting and commentary on militias operating in the country. Some of his most recent work included a July 1 article on internal disputes within the Popular Mobilization Forces, a state-backed organization of militias, which includes groups supported by Iran.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the assassination of a scholar in apparent retaliation for expressive activity. SAR further offers condolences to Dr. al-Hashemi’s family, friends, and colleagues. State authorities have a responsibility to investigate violent attacks on scholars and to hold perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such attacks undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.