Al-Hadidi, a writer and columnist from Mosul, was shot dead by a group of Islamic State militants who had been holding him hostage, according to friends and colleagues of the journalist, who spoke to CPJ, and reports by Iraqi press freedom groups. The militant group accused him of “collaborating with Baghdad,” reports said.
Al-Hadidi, who in some reports was named Ahmad Hasko al-Hadidi, was the editor of the privately owned newspaper Mosul al-Youm and wrote for Sada al-Iraq, a privately owned weekly socio-political newspaper, colleagues said. Mosul al-Youm has not been published since Islamic State took over Mosul.
In July 2014, a month after Islamic State took over Mosul, al-Hadidi, 59, was kidnapped from his home, local news reports said. Colleagues and media monitors with whom CPJ spoke during an investigative trip to the Iraqi city of Irbil in October 2015 said al-Hadidi was later killed, although the date of his death remains unclear.
Reports of his death began to emerge two weeks after he was taken. Ahmad al-Rubaei, from the Iraqi monitoring group Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, told CPJ al-Hadidi was killed on July 15, 2014. However, the Nineveh Media Foundation, a small Iraqi monitoring group, said that al-Hadidi’s family were not summoned to identify his body until March 2015. As of October 2015, the Nineveh Media Foundation counted al-Hadidi among the seven journalists it says were killed by Islamic State since its takeover of Mosul. The monitoring group’s criteria is based on whether Islamic State returned the victim’s body to the family.
Al-Hadidi’s name appeared on a list of 2,070 Mosul residents Islamic State claims to have killed, which was posted in police stations and at coroner’s offices in Mosul in September 2015. CPJ has not been able to independently verify that al-Hadidi’s name appeared on the list.
A close friend of al-Hadidi, who asked not to be identified out of security concerns, told CPJ in an interview in the Iraqi city of Irbil, that the print journalist had criticized Islamic State ideology in his writing, and was producing a pamphlet on the militant group’s crimes. He also ran as a candidate in two elections, including for former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, the friend said. CPJ was unable to determine what years he ran for election.
Although his political associations may have made him a target, al-Hadidi’s journalism was a “challenge to Islamic State’s message,” a senior editor at a Mosul newspaper who knew al-Hadidi and who asked not to be named for security reasons, told CPJ.