The killers of prominent scholar Husham Al Hashimi have fled Iraq, the government said on Sunday, four months after the assassination, which it is still investigating.
Al Hashimi was shot dead outside his home in early July. At least four gunmen on two motorcycles waited outside his house in Baghdad’s eastern Shiite-dominated neighbourhood of Zayouna and opened fire after the academic had parked his car.
Government spokesman Ahmed Mullah Talal said authorities had seized the motorcycles in one of Baghdad's neighbourhoods and identified two of the assailants.
"But one party smuggled them outside the country," Mr Mullah Talal told state television on Sunday.
“The government is committed to track and bring them back,” he said, without specifying who helped the killers flee, or where they had fled.
Al Hashimi was a leading expert on ISIS and other militant groups, including the Iran-backed Shiite militias. As a well-informed security analyst, his expertise was sought by governments, researchers and journalists.
He was close to Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, who has sought to impose state control over the Iraqi militias after taking office in May. Although the paramilitaries grouped under the Popular Mobilisation Forces are considered part of the state security forces, the Iran-backed militias in the group operate outside the military chain of command.
Al Hashimi was an outspoken critic of the Iran-backed militias and supported the pro-reform protests that broke out October 2019, which also decried the growing influence of Iran and Shiite militias in the country.
According to government statistics released on July 30, at least 560 protesters and members of the security forces were killed, while thousands of others were wounded.
Most were protesters killed or wounded by security forces and state-backed militias firing live rounds and military-grade grenades. Some were assassinated outside the protest encampments.
Mr Al Kadhimi pledged to investigate the killings of protesters but his government has failed to hold anyone accountable so far, offering only promises of justice and financial aid.