4 arrested in international investigation over attempted $10mn extortion of senior Iraqi politician

4 arrested in international investigation over attempted $10mn extortion of senior Iraqi politician

Four individuals have been detained in morning raids conducted at homes in Canada and Australia, after they attempted to extort a senior Iraqi politician in what authorities described as a year-long campaign of intimidation.

The victim was only identified by police as a “very senior politician” who “spends almost all of his time in Iraq.” However, local media claimed that the target of the criminal scheme was Ahmed Asadi, a dual Australian-Iraqi citizen.

Asadi has served as a member of Iraq’s parliament, representing Baghdad, for the past six years, rising to the position of the Fatah Alliance’s spokesman and the secretary general of the Islamic Movement.

The politician was first targeted in December 2019, with masked and armed attackers breaking into a property in Sydney, where they assaulted a teenage boy and stole cash from the residence. This was followed by shots being fired at the house several months later, and a window being broken in another attack. At the start of this month, the property’s front porch was set alight, and a note threatening the family was attached to the residence.

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While Asadi has been a high-profile figure in Iraq’s parliament and has called for foreign troops to swiftly leave the country, it is not thought that the crimes were linked to his political beliefs.

Authorities have suggested that the intimidation was purely financially motivated, with “constant demands for money over a period of time” being made by the criminals to the family, totaling around $10 million.

The two individuals detained in Australia face six charges, for damaging property and demanding property by force with intent to steal. The man and woman arrested by Canadian authorities were taken into custody by Edmonton Police’s cyber crime unit.

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