Gunmen in Baghdad Kill Sister of Iraqi Vice President

By Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 28, 2006

BAGHDAD, April 27 -- Two sedans loaded with gunmen sped through the streets of Baghdad on Thursday morning, chasing the sister of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi.

As one of the attackers' cars cut off the sport-utility vehicle carrying Mayson al-Hashimi, the other drove past, spraying the vehicle with bullets and killing the 60-year-old woman, whose biggest offense was being related to a prominent Sunni leader.

A wounded survivor traveling with Hashimi told the police what had happened, police Gen. Raad Khudaier Tamimi said. Meanwhile, attackers left behind a note, Tamimi said.

"This is a punishment for those who collaborate," the note said. It was signed, "Monotheism and Jihad."

Mayson al-Hashimi was the second sibling whom Tariq al-Hashimi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, has lost since April 13, when another pack of gunmen killed his brother, Mahmoud al-Hashimi.

That was before Tariq al-Hashimi and his fellow vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi -- both of whom served in the transitional government -- took office on Saturday at a meeting of Iraq's newly formed parliament. Hashimi, a Sunni, vowed with his Shiite and Kurdish colleagues to defeat the country's insurgent movement and restore national stability.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called Hashimi earlier this month to express her condolences for his brother's killing. She also met the vice president in a one-on-one session during her visit to Iraq on Wednesday. A day later, Hashimi's sister was killed.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, paid tribute to Hashimi: "He and many others like him are true Iraqi patriots," he said. "They're doing what they're doing at great risk and great personal sacrifice."

Living in Iraq has its share of dangers, but stepping into the limelight of politics makes it that much easier for a lawmaker and his family to wind up in the cross hairs of any number of armed factions. Few politicians have been spared threats or tragedy. Abdul Mahdi -- a Shiite -- lost his brother at the hands of insurgents last fall. Attackers killed two sons of Mithal Alousi, a secular Sunni politician, after he made an unpopular visit to Israel.

Provincial governors, who have less security, have even more problems: The governor of Nineveh province in northern Iraq has survived at least three attempts on his life and has lost a son and five other relatives.

The sister of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, another Shiite, was kidnapped in January but later released. The brother of Saleh al-Mutlak, an outspoken Sunni political leader, met another fate: Police found his body on April 17, a few days after he was kidnapped.

Mutlak, a friend of Hashimi's, said he could sympathize with his colleague's loss.

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