Baghdad Bureau Chief Flees Iraq After Being Threatened On Social Media, TV
Reuters’ bureau chief in Baghdad fled Iraq after receiving death threats and being condemned by an Iran-backed TV station last week.
A Facebook page linked to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups posted that Reuters’ Ned Parker should be expelled on April 5, reports the agency. “One commenter said that killing Parker was ‘the best way to silence him, not kick him out.'”
Then, a TV station owned by Iran-controlled militia Asaid Ahl al-Haq broadcast a segment on Parker, including his picture. According to Reuters, “The segment accused the reporter and Reuters of denigrating Iraq and its government-backed forces, and called on viewers to demand Parker be expelled.”
Parker and two unnamed colleagues in Tikrit detailed revenge attacks by Iraqi Shiite militias in the wake of ousting Islamic State militants, including looting and arson. Reuters’ reporters witnessed the lynching of two Islamic State fighters after the city’s capture, says the agency. Threats were purportedly in response to these reports.
Parker also exposed the role of Iranian advisers in Iraq’s battle against the Islamic State in an article earlier this year. The Popular Mobilization Committee, known as Hashid Shaabi in Arabic, an umbrella group for Shiite militias linked to Iran, oftentimes leads operations instead of Iraqi security forces.
The bureau chief surmised, “it is increasingly influential in determining the country’s future.”
Tikrit, about 100 miles north of Baghdad, was under Islamic State control for nearly 10 months before being liberated by Iraqi security forces and Iran-backed Shiite militias with the help of U.S. airstrikes.
The Shiite-led Iraqi government is trying to mend ties with the country’s Sunni Muslim population while also defeating the Sunni Islamic State. Neighboring Iran, the largest and most influential Shiite Muslim country, is funding some of Iraq’s Shiite militias in order to defeat the Islamic State.
After Islamic State militants are ousted from Iraqi cities, Iran-backed militias have committed acts of sectarian violence and human rights abuses. (RELATED: Iraqi City Retaken From ISIS, Raided By Militiamen)
Parker was an Edward R. Murrow Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, according to his Twitter page. He was the Baghdad bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times from 2009 to 2011.
Neither Parker nor the Iraqi Embassy in Washington D.C. responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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