Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Well-known Iraqi journalist Imad Abadi survived an assassination attempt on Monday night in central Baghdad in which he was shot a number of times by an unidentified gunman wielding a silenced pistol. Imad Abadi is the director of the political section of the al-Diyar satellite channel; he is also the host and producer of the well-known “Without Fences” television show.
[Iraqi] security sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Abadi was shot by a silenced pistol. Other sources have warned of the existence of a list of 400 Iraqi journalists who are either at physical risk or risk being targeted by a smear campaign, ahead of the Iraqi elections which are scheduled to take place in January 2010.
The security source confirmed that Abadi was traveling to work in his car when he was shot several times with a silenced pistol by an unidentified gunman in another car, who then fled the scene of the crime. The source said that Abadi managed to remain in control of the car despite the fact that one of the bullets struck him in the head, and he managed to drive more than 5km to reach the al-Diyar headquarters in the neighborhood of Salhiyah in Central Baghdad.
Asharq Al-Awsat learnt that despite Abadi’s injuries, he attempted to call one of his colleagues four times, but he was unable to get through.
Information also revealed that the Iraqi Interior Minister [Jawad al-Bolani] has ordered 400 police officers to guard the Khadamiyah General Hospital where Abadi is being treated in order to protect him from any further attacks. The Khadamiyah hospital has become overrun by media and governmental and non-governmental politicians [visiting with Abadi] including Interior Minister al-Bolani, and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, not to mention Iraqi parliamentary representatives.
A heavy US forces presence could also be noted following the assassination attempt, and the US military sent doctors to contribute to Abadi’s [medial] treatment, and efforts are currently being made to transfer Abadi outside of the country for further treatment.
The al-Diyar satellite channel did not accuse any specific party of being responsible for the attempted assassination of Imad Abadi. However the al-Diyar Productions Director Omar Jarrah confirmed that Abadi was a courageous journalist who criticized [individuals and institutions] and called a spade a spade, and that through Abadi’s program [Without Fences] he uncovered corruption wherever he found it. Jarrah told Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Diyar is not accusing anybody of responsibility of the attack, but that the channel is calling for an investigation to bring those responsible to justice. Jarrah also called on the [Iraqi] House of Representatives to adopt a law to protect journalists who are being exposed to daily attempts on their lives.
Mustafa al-Kazimi, who is an Iraqi journalist and an official at the Iraqi Memory Foundation, confirmed that “the assassination attempt on Abadi is connected to the elections in a large way and this is a clear message to all journalists to not criticize politicians or governmental figures.”
Al-Kazimi also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that he met with a senior security official who confirmed to him the existence of “a list comprised of the names of 400 journalists who are at threat of being killed or having their reputations smeared. Unfortunately, we find that the concerned authorities are unable to provide them with protection, and this includes the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate and the security services. We do not even have a law to protect journalists and to ensure their freedom of expression.”
A source close to the Interior Minister revealed that the investigation into this assassination attempt has been able to uncover those responsible, and they will be arrested in the coming days. Al Bolani told Abadi that “we will catch them [those responsible], and they will not escape from the security services.”