Iraq announces arrest of Basra activist's son, with help of Kurdistan Region security

Iraqi activist Fatima al-Bahadili (left) poses for a photograph with her son Ali Kareem, who was found dead in Basra on Sunday. (Photo: Social Media)
Iraqi activist Fatima al-Bahadili (left) poses for a photograph with her son Ali Kareem, who was found dead in Basra on Sunday. (Photo: Social Media)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security authorities announced on Tuesday that security forces had arrested a man accused of killing the son of prominent activist Fatima al-Bahadili on Saturday in the southern city of Basra.

On Saturday, police discovered the body of 26-year-old Ali Kareem, one day after his disappearance from a local market under suspicious circumstances. He appeared to have been killed by gunfire.

"Under the direct supervision of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, detachments of the Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency in the Ministry of Interior were able to arrest the killer of Ali Karim, son of activist Fatima al-Bahadili, in Basra province."

"The arrest came after the formation of a specialized team and intensive intelligence efforts from the scene of the accident until his arrest in cooperation with the security services in the Kurdistan Region," read a military statement.

No party has yet claimed responsibility for the death of Kareem or others apparently assassinated as a result of their activism related to an anti-corruption protest movement that started in October 2019, but the majority of domestic and international observers lay blame at pro-Iranian armed factions.

Fatima al-Bahadili, Kareem's mother and well-known human rights activist from Basra, soon blamed her son's death on Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian-backed militia of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Read More: Prominent Iraqi activist accuses Iranian-backed militia of murdering her son

Al-Bahadili, a recipient of Frontline Defenders award, has been the subject of death threats and various kinds of social pressure from militias and tribal forces, according to the international organization

Her organization, al-Firdaws Society, works to help the victims of war, mostly women and children, to be able to reintegrate into society after episodes of trauma and bloody conflict. Peace-building and gender equality are two other key parts of the group's mission.

The Iraqi government also recently announced the arrest of a male accused of killing well-known Iraqi researcher Hisham al-Hashimi, one year after his assassination in Baghdad.

Read More: Iraq’s top court says issued arrest warrants for the killers of Hisham al-Hashimi

The head of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council said that the legal cases of some protester killings, carried out by members of Iraqi security forces and militias, had been resolved, an issue he described as "thorny and complex."

Since protests began in October of 2019, violence primarily led by riot police and PMF groups has led to over 600 deaths among demonstrators, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.

Editing by John J. Catherine