Iraqi Journalists Syndicate chief dies from wounds

New York, February 27, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the loss of Shihab al-Tamimi, head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, who died today from injuries he sustained from a targeted shooting in Baghdad on Saturday.

Jabbar Tarrad al-Shimmari, deputy head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, told CPJ that al-Tamimi, 74, died from a stroke at 4 p.m. after his condition rapidly deteriorated around noon. Al-Shimmari talked to family members who were with him at the hospital.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Shihab al-Tamimi’s family and colleagues,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “His death serves as a stark reminder of the dangers journalists face daily in Iraq as the press continues to be targeted by various groups.”

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 on Monday.

Al-Tamimi and his son, Rabie, were both shot several times and hospitalized, Karim told CPJ. Rabie al-Tamimi is recovering from his wounds. The third occupant was not injured, he said. 

Al-Tamimi had received threats before. Al-Shimmari said that al-Tamimi received a threat in 2005 during which the caller told him he would be killed the following day. The journalist went into hiding for a month after that. About six months ago, al-Tamimi received calls both on his cell phone and land line threatening his life, according to Karim.

Al-Tamimi, who headed the syndicate since 2003, had been a critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its continued presence there, according to Reuters. He is survived by his wife and three children.

At least 127 journalists, including al-Tamimi, and 50 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for the press in CPJ’s 26-year history. About 90 percent of media deaths have been Iraqis.