Saif Aldin, 32, was killed at close range by a single gunshot to the head while photographing fire-damaged houses on a street in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of Al-Saydiya, the Post reported. Saif Aldin was on assignment interviewing residents about sectarian violence raging between Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents in the neighborhood, long a center of violence, the newspaper said. The Post reported that a man used Saif Aldin’s cell phone to inform an employee at the paper that the journalist was killed.
Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Sudarsan Raghavan told CPJ that it was murky as to who shot Saif Aldin and why. Some residents suspected that the Iraqi Army, some of whose members were loyal to the Mahdi Army, a militia led by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was responsible for the slaying, the Post reported. Iraqi police said they suspected Sunni gunmen from the Awakening Council, a group consisting of Sunni tribes working alongside U.S. forces, the Post said.
Saif Aldin, who wrote under the pseudonym Salih Dehema for security purposes, began his journalism career as a reporter for the weekly Al-Iraq al-Yawm in Tikrit, and joined the Post in January 2004 as a stringer, the newspaper said. Saif Aldin had been arrested, beaten, and threatened while carrying out his assignments.
Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of the Post, called Saif Aldin a “brave and valuable reporter who contributed much to our coverage of Iraq.” Saif Aldin was known for his tenacity and his willingness to take assignments that put him in harm’s way, the Post reported.