An Iranian-backed Iraqi militia group was linked to the murder of a US citizen shot dead in Baghdad on Monday. The victim was identified as Stephen Troell, 45, a native of Tennessee.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani condemned the attack and issued a warning to those who might plan to commit acts of violence in the country: “This was a cowardly crime against an American citizen. resident in our country known to the community … This is a red line for us. Those who want to test our government in terms of security will fail. ” Al-Sudani has been in office since 28 October.
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Saraya Ahl al’Khaf, an Iranian-backed armed militia group, allegedly claimed responsibility for the murder in a statement, calling it “revenge for the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. “.
Soleimani, the former leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in a President Trump-authorized drone strike in Baghdad in July 2020. Although it attracted less attention, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is also was killed in the attack. As deputy commander of the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Forces, Al-Muhandis was regarded as one of the most important military commanders in Iraq.
Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Iran should be held responsible for attacking an American abroad. “The militia that carried out this attack is undoubtedly a crop of one of the largest Iranian-backed Shiite militias, such as Asib al Haq or Hezbollah Brigades.” he said, “This follows a pattern of past attacks, in which previously unknown groups claim attacks on American interests, and everyone wonders who this group is. This is done to provide plausible denial to the larger militias in order to discourage attacks. of retaliation “.
Roggio warned that Troell’s killing will galvanize supporters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-sanctioned terrorist group. “The killing of an American citizen to avenge these deaths shows their supporters and those they try to intimidate that they have a long memory and have the means to execute. The militias and the IRGC will not stop there, they will continue to try to take target more Americans. “
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Alina Romanowski, US ambassador to Iraq, expressed her condolences to the family in a statement Tuesday on Twitter: “With great sadness, I thank the Iraqi people for the messages of support following the brutal murder of Stephen Troell last night in Baghdad. He was here in a private capacity doing what he loved: working with the Iraqi people. my heartfelt condolences to his wife and small children “.
Troell’s family released a statement on Monday. “Stephen Troell met his Savior face to face. Jocelyn, the girls and little Stephen are currently safe and will be returning to the United States in the next few days. As you can imagine, these are difficult days for the Troell and Britt family. Please. give us time to suffer together as a family. We are grateful for all who contacted us. Your prayers, your love and your kind words have sustained us as God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. “
The family statement concluded: “Stephen often quoted the words of two young Moravians who gave their lives for the cause. We echo them again: ‘May the slain lamb receive the reward of its suffering … the weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning “(Ps 30,5)”.
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Troell worked for Millennium Relief and Development Services, an organization affiliated with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which released a statement on Wednesday: “We are very saddened by the tragedy that took the life of our colleague, a US citizen. , Stephen Troell, near his home in Baghdad, Iraq … Mr. Troell had worked for a local English learning institute, the Global English Institute-Baghdad … He will be remembered as a source of great encouragement and will be missed by all those who knew him and were touched by his life “.
Ali Kamal of Fox News contributed to this article from Baghdad.
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