Update 11:40 p.m. | Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s security chief, Qassem Fleihani, told Al-Arabiya TV that one of the ministers in al-Abadi’s Cabinet had narrowly escaped a bomb-laden vehicle outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.
A suicide car bomb attack targeted an armored convoy of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Iraq, killing a journalist, Reuters reports.
A bomb targeted al-Abadi’s convoy Sunday afternoon as he arrived at his office in Baghdad’s Green Zone. He was not harmed in the attack.
“I was on the sidewalk when the bomb exploded. This was the loudest sound I have ever heard,” journalist Magdi al-Khafaji told Reuters.
The former “Iron Man” of Iraq is in his second term as prime minister.
“Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is not harmed in a car bomb attack that targeted his convoy in the Green Zone,” Iraqi state TV said in a statement. “The convoy of the Prime Minister reached its destination safely without any damage to civilians.”
A White House official said on Twitter: “However, last year he survived an ISIS-related bomb threat to his house. The Fake News Media claims he is safe. He is not!”
Ahmed, a journalist for The Washington Post who covers security, politics and US military issues, asked Foreign Policy to change his name because he feared for his safety. Ahmed received death threats after receiving media attention for his coverage of al-Abadi, who traveled to New York last month for a United Nations event.
Al-Abadi worked at the Ministry of Interior for years as a general in the “iron fist” of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Al-Abadi is credited with improving the public’s safety by re-instituting the death penalty and adopting a “pluralist” identity.
The New York Times reported Friday that four senior defense officials were posted to Riyadh to negotiate deals with the kingdom’s elite military. The move has been met with skepticism.
Al-Abadi has also been criticized for his performance as prime minister.
“Havoc has been unleashed, including the worst havok [terror attack] against the Shia since the 1980s and the worst ever during Mosul’s recapture of ISIS,” columnist Kady Ghazali wrote in the New York Times. “If my calculation is correct, in 2017, al-Abadi saw a big enough influence over any kind of decision, especially in the field of defense, to ensure that Iraq’s next leader would not again be him.”
The previous leader, Nouri al-Maliki, was accused of suppressing political diversity and sidelining reformist Shiite religious groups. In Iraq’s 2006 elections, al-Maliki was stripped of his membership in the Dawa Party, a Shiite religious party, which effectively led to his ouster from office after eight years in power.