U.S. citizen gunned down in Baghdad

U.S. citizen gunned down in Baghdad
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A U.S. citizen who worked at a local English language institute was shot dead in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy announced Monday, marking a rare attack on foreign visitors to the country.
“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen, Stephen Edward Troell, in Baghdad. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death,” said the statement, which had no further comment “out of respect to the family.

Iraqi officials said Troell’s vehicle was attacked by “unknown” gunmen as he drove through central Baghdad on Monday. The weapon was fitted with a suppressor, they said, but provided no further information. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive case.

Iraq’s new Prime Minister Muhammed al-Sudani has ordered an investigation into the killing and promised “details, causes and access to the perpetrators as soon as possible.”

Almost 20 years after the American-led invasion of Iraq, the country is in many ways considered safer for foreigners than for Iraqis. While scores of citizens have died during hospital fires and Iran-backed Shiite militias have killed those who criticize them, the country has attracted a steady stream of Western tourists and YouTube bloggers, without incident.

Troell’s employer, Millennium Relief and Development Services, headquartered in Bellaire, Texas, said in a statement that he had worked in promotions and advertising at Global English Institute, a local language teaching institute where is wife was the manager.

“He loved the people of Iraq,” said the statement. “He will be remembered as a source of great encouragement and will be missed by all who knew him and were touched by his life.”

On the Facebook page for the Global English Institute, the school expressed sadness for his death and said it would be closed for the next two weeks. In the comments, some 300 people, many apparently students, expressed sorrow over his killing and condolences for his wife and children.

In a video posted on the page just two weeks before his death, Troell can be seen standing in front of the school in glasses, a button down shirt and gray beard enthusiastically inviting students to a new English language course as well as first aid classes at the school.

“We would be glad to help you on your English language journey, we love what we are doing here, helping people enjoying the English language and taking that journey,” he said.

In social media postings from 2018, Troell had shared photographs of visits to Baghdad’s renowned Mutanabi Street book market, and to one of the capital’s bridges across the Tigris River, a popular stop-off for families at sunset.

A conference program from 2016, available online, suggested he had engaged in missionary work in the past. “In December of 2012, the Troell family moved to the Middle East to study Arabic and continue their effort in making the name of Jesus great among the nations,” it said.

Religious groups in Iraq and the wider Middle East often take a dim view of Christian proselytizing, and missionary work is illegal in some countries.

A new Iraqi government, sworn in last month, faces steep challenges in tackling everything from the short term security situation to the long term challenges posed by climate change amid a population boom.

Although Sudani represents a fresh face at the top, Iraq’s political system leaves him beholden to influential political players from across the political spectrum, weakening his ability to rein in armed groups or combat the endemic corruption that has left the health and education systems barely functional.

The killing of an American citizen in downtown Baghdad will be an early test for Sudani. Under his predecessor, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, investigations into high profile assassinations were frequently opened, but the alleged perpetrators usually walked free, due to their links to powerful Iran-linked militias.

Source : The washington post

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