Saddam agents blamed for death

Area Chaldeans believe publisher of newspaper critical of Iraqi regime was assassinated in 1983.
Paul Egan / The Detroit News
HAZEL PARK — They can’t prove it, but many local Chaldeans are convinced Saddam Hussein and agents of his Iraqi Intelligence Service were responsible for an unsolved Hazel Park murder in 1983.

Napoleon Bashi, publisher of a local newspaper called Al-Mashriq (The Orient) that was an outspoken critic of the Saddam regime, was shot to death after an unknown gunman entered his Noble Market, near Eight Mile on John R, about an hour before closing time on Jan. 11, 1983.

Jacob Bacall, Bashi’s brother-in-law, said the killing went in the books as an attempted robbery, but “it was an assassination.”

“No money was taken, and they didn’t touch anything,” said Bacall of West Bloomfield.

Witnesses reported seeing a man flee the store and escape in a car driven by an accomplice.

About 300 people staged a protest rally about three weeks after the killing.

Bashi, 45, of Southfield, who left a wife and four children, had been warned through intermediaries to stop his criticism of the Iraqi regime, Bacall said.

Whether Bashi’s death was in fact a political killing “depends on who you talk to,” said Joseph T. Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America in Farmington Hills.

“That was a long time ago.”

Hazel Park police officials could not be reached Friday to comment on the killing.