On June 14, this year, an interpreter for the US army called Hameed al-Daraji was shot dead as he was sleeping in his house in Samarra, a city 60 miles north of Baghdad.
In some respects there was nothing strange about the killing, since 26 Iraqi civilians were murdered in different parts of the country on the same day. As well as working periodically for the Americans since 2003, Mr Daraji may have recently converted to Christianity and unwisely taken to wearing a crucifix around his neck – a gesture quite enough to make him a target in the Sunni Arab heartlands.
What made Iraqis, inured to violence though they are, pay particular attention to the murder of Mr Daraji was the identity of his killer. Arrested soon after the body was discovered, his son is reported to have confessed to his father’s murder, explaining that his father’s job and change of religion brought such shame on the family that there was no alternative to shooting him. A second son and Mr Daraji’s nephew are also wanted for the killing and all three of the young men are alleged to have links to al-Qa’ida.