Local journalist Wsam Yousif Boho told CPJ that Butros had received anonymous death threats in the days before his death in which he was told to stop reporting or that he would be killed. It is not clear if the threats stemmed from any specific work of Butros.
Butros worked as a freelance cameraman for multiple local TV channels, including Al-Rasheed and Nineveh al-Ghad, which covers local news and cultural events. He also worked as an artistic photographer, focusing his work on nature, children, and daily life in Mosul, Nineveh al-Ghad reported before his death.
Boho said Butros often covered local news concerning the government, police, and military. Militant groups often target Iraqi journalists who deal with official sources, especially the security services, a tactic used at the height of violence in the Iraq War. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, for example, has targeted journalists in Mosul whom it considers collaborators with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, according to CPJ research.
With the resurgence of militant groups across the country, there has been a spike in general violence in the country as well as a rash of journalist killings in Mosul.
According to the Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, Iraqi security forces recently discovered a purported assassination list of 44 journalists during a raid on a building in Mosul that housed militants. It is not clear if any of the most recent killings were related to this list, but several journalists in Mosul say anti-government militants are targeting journalists considered supportive of the government.
News reports also said Butros was Christian, which could have also played a role in his murder. Christians across Iraq have been targeted by militant groups in recent years, leading many to flee the country, according to news reports.