Law enforcement and security officials say the father of a missing anti-government activist believed to have been abducted by militias in southern Iraq has been killed
BAGHDAD – The father of a missing Iraqi anti-government activist who led a public campaign trying to bring to justice the militia suspected of his abduction was shot dead on Wednesday, human rights supervisor and security officials said.
Jasb Khattab Aboud died of a gunshot wound at 6pm in the southern city of Amara, said Ali al-Bayati, a spokesman for the semi-official Independent Human Rights Commission and a security official. Both cited preliminary investigations and said more details would be released. Authorities did not identify the culprit.
The security officer spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with regulations.
Aboud was unusually vocal in his search for his son Ali Jasb, a lawyer who was one of a series of activists who went missing in the midst of Iraq’s mass anti-government demonstrations in October 2019. Aboud publicly accused a powerful militia backed by Iran of kidnapping even dangerous a step demanding that his leader be brought to justice.
Other families of missing activists were more restrained, often fearing retaliation if they spoke out.
Jasb, who has not been heard since surveillance footage of his October 8 abduction in Amari in the southern province of Missan, began symbolizing a police-led campaign of terror believed to have abducted dozens of prominent activists and killed more than 60.
The protests were largely silenced by a combination of coronavirus and violent repression by security forces and militias that, according to the commission, killed more than 500 people.
Aboud was a determined figure who was a constant opportunity in the local media for a time, reminding the Iraqi public of his missing son and seeking justice. Routinely, a six-hour-long bus took a bus from his rural city to Baghdad to meet with his lawyer. He always carried documents that he believed would provide justice in court.
The Associated Press followed Aboud’s attempts to prosecute the powerful commander Ansar Allah al-Awfi, one of the most extreme pro-Iranian militias. The militia was established under the state umbrella group of the People’s Mobilization Force created to fight the Islamic State group in 2014.
At every turn, the criminal case revealed the weakness of visas for Iraqi judicial institutions in relation to the growing power of militia groups.
Initial proceedings in the Missan courts came to a halt when testimony revealed a link between the abduction and the head of al-Awfi, local commander Haidar al-Gharawi. Frustrated by the delay, Aboud moved the case to Baghdad, where the investigation assessed that there was not enough evidence to push the case forward.