[Ed. – Center definitely not holding in the no-man’s-land between Iran and EASTMED.]
The Baghdad bureau chief for the Reuters news agency was forced to leave Iraq over the weekend after militias threatened his life for reporting that an ISIS suspect in custody had been murdered in Tikrit recently by Iraqi national police, according to the newswire and informed sources.
Ned Parker, an American journalist who leads Reuters’ coverage in Iraq, safely departed the country after his name and photo were broadcast and posted online by individuals affiliated with Shi’a militias who demanded he be expelled from Iraq or killed, the news agency and friends of the journalist said.
Last week, Reuters correspondents were present when an ISIS suspect in custody in Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit was hacked to death by a mob of Iraqi national policemen shouting that they were avenging a colonel killed by ISIS, the Sunni-Muslim terror group that controls large swaths of western and northern Iraq. …
“This is only the latest in a long string of troubling tripwires that signal the rebirth of the ‘Republic of Fear’ and Iraq’s slide toward the abyss,” said Ali Khedery, who was an adviser in Baghdad to five U.S. ambassadors, of the threats to Parker. …
Since [an] ABC News reports a month ago, video and photos depicting horrors of the kind generally associated with imagery produced by the ISIS propaganda teams have continued to circulate online. Much of it is attributed to the brutal Shi’a militias, whose numbers Khedery said dwarf the government’s forces.
U.S. airstrikes…assisted the Iraqi final push to reclaim Tikrit under the condition that most of the Shi’a militias pull back from the town so they would not directly benefit from American military might.
And yet Gen. Fadhil al-Barwari, commander of Iraqi Special Forces — the primary remaining government counterterrorism unit — staged a photo opportunity the day Tikrit was liberated from ISIS with one of the most celebrated militia commanders, Abu Azrael, the fabled “Angel of Death.”
According to Iraqi news reports, Abu Azrael went from college professor to weigh-lifting Shi’a militia hero brandishing an American M4 rifle — and now an Iraqi Special Forces cap, scarf and patches given by Barwari.