Muaid al-Lami at a Baghdad hospital following an attack that wounded his driver. (Reuters)
Muaid al-Lami at a Baghdad hospital following an attack that wounded his driver. (Reuters)

Journalist Syndicate chief escapes assassination attempt

New York, March 25, 2010Iraqi authorities must urgently investigate an assassination attempt Sunday against Muaid al-Lami, head of the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Four unidentified gunmen in a car intercepted and opened fire in Baghdad’s Al-Qadisiyya district on a two-car convoy carrying al-Lami and four other individuals, according to news reports. Al-Lami told CPJ that he was not wounded, but his driver, Emad Hamdy, was struck and critically injured.

Al-Lami was the target of another assassination attempt in September 2008, when a bomb exploded as he was leaving the syndicate’s headquarters in Baghdad.

Al-Lami told CPJ that the motive for this week’s attack was not clear, but he noted that the syndicate was involved in a number of controversial issues, chief among them its efforts to have parliament pass legislation aimed at protecting journalists.

The Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate is an independent association of professional journalists and is not affiliated with the government. The syndicate’s membership is varied, including individuals employed by independent media as well as those affiliated with the government and opposition factions. The pending legislation would make syndicate membership compulsory for all active journalists.

“We are alarmed by this second attempt on Muaid al-Lami’s life,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “We call on the Iraqi authorities to provide protection to al-Lami and ensure this attack is thoroughly investigated.”

At least 141 journalists and 51 media workers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.