Head of Iraqi Journalists Syndicate wounded in assassination attempt

New York, February 25, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an assassination attempt in Baghdad on Saturday against Shihab al-Tamimi, head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate.

Unidentified gunmen in a white Opel intercepted and opened fire on a car carrying al-Tamimi, his son and driver, Rabie, and an unidentified colleague riding in the backseat. The three were on their way from the syndicate’s headquarters to a meeting in Baghdad’s Al-Waziriya neighborhood, the journalist’s nephew, Arfan Jalil Karim, told CPJ.

“We’re alarmed by this brazen attempt to kill Shihab al-Tamimi,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We wish him and his son a speedy recovery.”

The attack was reported by numerous news outlets, although details varied. CPJ draws its account from Karim, who spoke with family members.

Al-Tamimi was talking on a cell phone when a bullet went through his left hand and struck his phone, Karim said. The nephew said another bullet penetrated the journalist’s left shoulder, narrowly missing his heart and lungs. Al-Tamimi underwent emergency surgery at Baghdad’s Ibn al-Nafis hospital and was later transferred to a hospital inside Baghdad’s Green Zone, according to Karim.

Rabie al-Tamimi was wounded by two shots in the shoulder and was hospitalized, Karim told CPJ. The third occupant was not injured, he said. 

Al-Tamimi’s condition remained serious on Monday and doctors were considering whether to transfer him to a foreign hospital for treatment, according to the independent news agency Aswat al-Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the government would cover al-Tamimi’s medical expenses abroad, according to Aswat al-Iraq.

Al-Tamimi had received multiple threats because of his position at the syndicate, Karim told CPJ. About six months ago, he received calls on his cell phone and land line threatening his life if he did not step down from the syndicate, Karim said.

The Iraqi Journalists Syndicate is a professional association. Al-Tamimi has been a critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its continued presence there, according to Reuters