A car carrying several gunmen intercepted Sarhan, a freelance journalist and a public relations director at Baghdad’s municipal secretariat, while he was driving home from work in Baghdad’s Al-Saydiya neighborhood, a local journalist familiar with the case told CPJ. The gunmen shot the journalist and sped away.
Iraqi police were about 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the shooting and responded quickly to the scene, the source said. Police called Sarhan’s sons, who identified the body.
Several CPJ sources familiar with the case said that Sarhan’s work was the only plausible motive for his killing. Sarhan was a well-known journalist who worked as a managing editor at the Iraqi News Agency until the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, according to CPJ sources. Since then, he worked as managing editor for the independent daily Al-Mashriq and the now-defunct weekly Al-Wihda al-Wataniya. He was the editor-in-chief of the now-defunct weekly Iraqiyoun. In 2005, Sarhan became the managing editor of Baghdad’s municipal secretariat weekly Sawt Baghdad. He later became a public relations director for the secretariat.
Sarhan freelanced for several national and international Arabic-language newspapers, including the Iraqi dailies Azzaman and Al-Mashriq, according to the CPJ source. He also appeared as an analyst on several programs for Iraqi satellite channels such as Al-Baghdadia and Al-Sharqiya. He regularly wrote articles and reports for Sawt Baghdad as part of his job for the secretariat, the source said. Al-Saydiya, located in the Al-Rasheed district controlled by al-Qaeda in Iraq, was a hotbed of violence at the time.