It all began with a series of face book posts published by Ziyad Jalii Alsaadi, whose identity was concealed by an avatar of Moqatada al-Sadr - commander of the Sadrist trend.
"Attention", the post read, "calling on every patriotic Iraqi to dig out any available information on these two men that reside in Finland”.
Alsaadi described the 22 year old as a "secret informant who worked for the Americans before his escape to Finland”, and blamed him for “many of Iraq’s orphaned children”.
He was accused of blasphemy against Iraq’s Marja'iyya, the ruling Shia religious institution, whom Hassan argues are knee-deep in corruption. Alsaadi was mostly agitated by the anti-Hashd views expressed by Hassan on his personal face book account.
Hassan told FRB how it was a normal spring day, before a car slowly approached, stopped, and two masked men lunged out.
“They knew exactly who I was, and beat me relentlessly with metal rods” he said. “They dragged me into their car, and began to drive. One man covered my mouth, and another held a knife to my throat. This is your warning, from Hakim Al Zamili, they said, before throwing me out”.
Left unable to walk, Hassan was helped by local Finnish citizens, and rushed to hospital. He was mercilessly beaten and suffered numerous broken bones in his hand and wrist. Despite his swift recovery, the Iraqi asylum seeker continues to experience shooting pain in his hands, that he says he "cannot use like before".
Indirect threats were also levelled at their young men's extended families. “The exact neighbourhoods where the families of these boys live in Iraq are still unknown” Saadi’s post read.
This was not the first or last incident of Hashd violence Hassan would be subjected to.
"Nearly fifteen days ago a red car pulled up to us on the street” Hassan told FRB over skype. “Three men were inside, but only two got out. They were masked, carried metal bars, and this time had a syringe filled with an unknown substance. We fell into a scuffle, but me and my friend tried to push back and block their attempt to inject us [...] as I wrestled with one, the other pulled out a knife to stab my friend. Luckily the knife was too small, and the layers that the winter here forces us to wear, saved his life” Hassan said.
He suspects that his profile was brought to the attention of Hashd militias back home by Iraqi refugees residing in the asylum reception centre where he lives.
This is not the first event in which Hashd henchmen export their violence abroad, but still, the reaction of the mainstream press remains muted. Two years ago, 43 year old Bassim from London received death threats after exposing assets former deputy premier, Baha Al Araji, had purchased using laundered money. He was told that his death would cost no more than a mere fifty pounds.
Harassment abroad is neither new or unexpected, and precedes the existing Dawa party led government in Iraq. What is new is the way Hashd operatives and hitmen are using violence to silence dissent and criticism against them. The group has been accused of conducting a litany of war crimes during ‘liberation’ operations over the last two years. While skating on very thin ice, their thuggery at home and now abroad, continues unchecked.