Overview

Also Known As:

Executive Summary:

The Badr Organization is a Shiite political party and paramilitary force that acts as “Iran’s oldest proxy in Iraq,” according to Reuters.Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Special Report: The fighters of Iraq who answer to Iran,” Reuters, November 12, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/12/us-mideast-crisis-militias-specialreport-idUSKCN0IW0ZA20141112; Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/. Reuters notes that the group’s military wing is considered “perhaps the single most powerful Shi’ite paramilitary group” fighting in Iraq.Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Isabel Coles, “Special Report: How Iran’s military chiefs operate in Iraq,” Reuters, February 24, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-mideast-crisis-committee-specialrepor- idUSKBN0LS0VD20150224. One Iraqi official described the Badr Organization as “easily” the most powerful force in Iraq, stronger even than Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Isabel Coles, “Special Report: How Iran’s military chiefs operate in Iraq,” Reuters, February 24, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-mideast-crisis-committee-specialrepor- idUSKBN0LS0VD20150224. Given the group’s deep ties to Iran and its political and military preeminence, analysts have compared the Badr Organization in Iraq to Hezbollah in Lebanon.Patrick Martin, “Analysis of the Badr Organization,” Globe and Mail, February 25, 2015, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/analysis-of-the-badr-organization/article23208662/.

Formed in 1983 under the name “the Badr Brigades,” the group originally served as the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an Iraqi Shiite political party aimed at bringing Iran’s Islamic Revolution to Iraq. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, SCIRI’s Badr Brigades fought alongside Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against the Iraqi military. From 1983 to 2003, the Badr Brigades continued to operate out of Iran, carrying out intermediary attacks in southern Iraq.Mahan Abedin, “Dossier: The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI),” Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, 5 (October 2003):10, accessed April 14, 2015, http://www.meforum.org/meib/articles/0310_iraqd.htm; Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/.

In 2003, the Badr Brigades returned to Iraq to take advantage of the political vacuum there following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. That year, the group formally rebranded, changing its name to “the Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development” and publicly pledging to abstain from violent attacks. From 2004 to 2006, however, the Badr Organization launched a brutal sectarian war on Iraq’s Sunni population.Patrick Martin, “Analysis of the Badr Organization,” Globe and Mail, February 25, 2015, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/analysis-of-the-badr-organization/article23208662/. During this period, Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri personally stands accused of ordering attacks on up to 2,000 Sunnis.Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior- minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html; “Election Law Crisis Fosters Sunni-shia Cooperation,” WikiLeaks, September 1, 2011, https://cablegatesearch.wikileaks.org/cable.php?id=09BAGHDAD3175&q=amiri%20badr%20drill. According to a leaked cable from the U.S. State Department, “One of [Amiri’s] preferred methods of killing allegedly involved using a power drill to pierce the skulls of his adversaries.”Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior-minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian- influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html; “Election Law Crisis Fosters Sunni-shia Cooperation,” WikiLeaks, September 1, 2011, https://cablegatesearch.wikileaks.org/cable.php?id=09BAGHDAD3175&q=amiri%20badr%20drill.

In 2007, the Badr Organization’s political wing rebranded, changing its name from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) as part of an effort to de-emphasize the party’s ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2012, the Badr Organization branched off from ISCI, operating as a political party of its own in addition to its capacity as a militia. As ISIS gained control over large swaths of territory in 2013 and 2014, the Badr Organization overtly mobilized, recruited, and fought ISIS alongside other Shiite militias and the Iraqi army.

Today, the Badr Organization is the most powerful militia within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an alliance of predominantly Shiite militia groups in Iraq that often fights alongside the Iraqi army. Reuters reported that in the March 2015 fight for Tikrit, Badr militiamen and the regular army drove identical tanks with only an army logo differentiating the two forces.Ahmed Rasheed and Dominic Evans, “Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit,” Reuters, March 3, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/03/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKBN0LZ10Q20150303. Some units in Iraq’s army, including Iraq’s 5th and 20th Battalions, have reportedly answered to Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri.Holly Williams, “Armed with U.S. weapons, infamous militia beating ISIS,” CBS News, February 2, 2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/armed-with-u-s-weapons-ruthless-militia-beating-isis-in-iraq/;
Eli Lake, “Iran's Militias Are Taking Over Iraq's Army,” Bloomberg View, February 3, 2015, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s- army;
Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay, “Exclusive: U.S. falters in campaign to revive Iraqi army, officials say,” Reuters, June 4, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-exclusive-idUSKCN0YP2DO.
As of November 2014, the Badr Organization claims to command upwards of 10,000 militants.Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/. As ISIS loses traction in Iraq, Reuters has described the Badr Organization’s role in Iraq as “ascendant.”Ahmed Rasheed and Saif Hameed, “Sunni MPs boycott Iraq parliament and govt in protest at violence,” Reuters, January 19, 2016, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-iraq-violence-idUKKCN0UX19I.

The Badr Organization constitutes an active political force in Iraq in addition to operating as a militia. From 2011 to 2014, Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri served as Iraq’s transportation minister. From October 2014 to July 2016, another Badr member, Mohammed Ghabban, served as Iraq’s interior minister.Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior- minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html;
Saif Hameed and Ahmed Rasheed, “Iraq's interior minister resigns after massive Baghdad bomb attack,” Reuters, July 5, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-minister-idUSKCN0ZL1II.
As of late 2016, the Badr Organization holds 22 seats in Iraq’s parliament.Patrick Martin, “Analysis of the Badr Organization,” Globe and Mail, February 25, 2015, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/analysis-of-the-badr-organization/article23208662/;
“Political Blocs and Parties in Iraq’s Council of Representatives,” Institute for the Study of War, May 6, 2016, http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/2016%20CoR%20Rump%20%282%29.pdf.
The group is part of the government’s ruling coalition, and has long been criticized for its hold over Iraq’s Interior Ministry.Stephen Kalin and Ahmed Rasheed, “Falluja abuses hard to prevent, not systematic: Iraqi minister,” Reuters, June 15, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-minister-idUSKCN0Z11HA.

Although the Badr Organization’s political arm portrays itself as welcoming and conciliatory to Sunnis, the areas where the group fights ISIS have seen “some of the most high-profile Sunni-Shiite violence of the current conflict,” according to the Washington Post.Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior- minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html. This is particularly true in Iraq’s Diyala province, where Amiri has been leading military operations.Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior- minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html. According to one Human Rights Watch employee, “We’ve documented widespread burning and destruction of homes. That’s something we’ve recorded in literally every place where militias are leading the fight against ISIS. In some instances, we have documented them carrying out summary executions of people… the [militias] that we’ve documented the most abuses by are definitely Badr Organization.”“The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State,” VICE News, February 12, 2015, https://news.vice.com/video/the-battle-for-iraq-shia-militias-vs-the-islamic-state. During the fight to retake Mosul beginning in late 2016, Human Rights Watch urged that Iraq ban abusive Shiite militias from partaking in the operation.“Iraq: Ban Abusive Militias from Mosul Operation,” Human Rights Watch, July 31, 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/31/iraq-ban-abusive-militias-mosul-operation.

In analyzing the group, CBS News writes that the Badr Organization “was born out of Iraq’s bloody civil war and their notorious death squads are implicated in the torture and murder of thousands of Sunni Muslims.”Holly Williams, “Armed with U.S. weapons, infamous militia beating ISIS,” CBS News, February 2, 2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/armed-with-u-s-weapons-ruthless-militia-beating-isis-in-iraq/. According to General Michael Flynn, former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, “Members of the Badr Corps are responsible for killing many American Soldiers [sic] and they will likely do it again if given the chance… [G]roups like the Badr Corps represent enemies of a stable, secure, and inclusive Iraq. As soon as we get done helping them with ISIS, they will very likely turn on us.”Eli Lake, “Iran's Militias Are Taking Over Iraq's Army,” Bloomberg View, February 3, 2015, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s-army.

Doctrine:

For years, the Badr Organization served as the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a political party committed to bringing Iran’s revolutionary brand of Shiite Islamism to Iraq.Mahan Abedin, “Dossier: The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI),” Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, 5 (October 2003):10, accessed April 14, 2015, http://www.meforum.org/meib/articles/0310_iraqd.htm. However, when SCIRI reemerged in Iraq in March 2003, the group insisted that it was not pushing for an Iranian-style government, despite the group’s name and ongoing ties to Tehran.Jim Muir, “Iran-backed rebels eye new Iraq role,” BBC News, last updated March 18, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2859173.stm.

Since 2003, Shiism and Iranian-influenced Islamism have remained central elements of the Badr Organization’s identity. In 2011, Badr members celebrated the end of the U.S. military presence in Iraq by plastering the walls of government buildings with posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.Associated Press, “Iraqi Leader Calls for Unity and Political Stability After U.S. Troop Departure,” Fox News, January 1, 2012, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/01/01/iraqi-leader-calls-for-unity-and-political-stability-after-us-troop- departure/. In early 2015, Amiri reaffirmed his support for Iran’s Supreme Leader, saying that Khamenei “has all the qualifications as an Islamic leader. He is the leader not only for Iranians but the Islamic nation. I believe so and I take pride in it.”Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Isabel Coles, “Special Report: How Iran's military chiefs operate in Iraq,” Reuters, February 24, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-mideast-crisis-committee-specialrepor- idUSKBN0LS0VD20150224.

Organizational Structure:

Hadi al-Amiri leads the Badr Organization’s military and political wings, but his influence extends beyond the group’s confines. Amiri was given command over Iraq’s army and police in Diyala province.Ned Parker and Stephen Kalin, “Iraqi commander denies paramilitary groups involved in killings,” Reuters, February 9, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/09/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-amiri-idUSKBN0LD17B20150209; Eli Lake, “Iran's Militias Are Taking Over Iraq’s Army,” Bloomberg View, February 3, 2015, hhttp://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s- army. Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi had also reportedly entrusted Amiri with control over the Iraqi Army’s 20th Battalion, according to the battalion’s commander, General Ali al-Wazir.Ned Parker and Stephen Kalin, “Iraqi commander denies paramilitary groups involved in killings,” Reuters, February 9, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/09/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-amiri-idUSKBN0LD17B20150209; Eli Lake, “Iran's Militias Are Taking Over Iraq’s Army,” Bloomberg View, February 3, 2015, hhttp://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s- army. One Human Rights Watch employee said that Amiri “is an extremely powerful figure and he’s essentially acting with total impunity now. It’s not really the government leading the militias; it’s the other way around.”“The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State,” VICE News, February 12, 2015, https://news.vice.com/video/the-battle-for-iraq-shia-militias-vs-the-islamic-state.

In his capacity as leader of the Badr Organization’s militia, Amiri claims that he presents the group’s military plans to Prime Minister Abadi for approval.Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Isabel Coles, “Special Report: How Iran's military chiefs operate in Iraq,” Reuters, February 24, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-mideast-crisis-committee-specialrepor- idUSKBN0LS0VD20150224. However, in April 2015, Prime Minister Abadi ordered that all PMF militias, including the Badr Organization, be placed under his office’s direct command.Rod Nordland, “After Victory Over ISIS in Tikrit, Next Battle Requires a New Template,” ew York Times, April 7, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-anbar-sunni-shiite.html. As Amiri serves as the leader of Iraq’s PMF, Abadi’s order seems to suggest that Amiri has retained significant autonomy when it comes to planning and executing paramilitary attacks.Rod Nordland, “After Victory Over ISIS in Tikrit, Next Battle Requires a New Template,” ew York Times, April 7, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-anbar-sunni-shiite.html.

Although Amiri appears to act without much Iraqi government oversight, reports suggest he may answer to the leader of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani. In the fight to retake Tikrit from ISIS militants, Soleimani “was directing operations on the eastern flank from a village about 55km (35 miles) from Tikrit,” according to a Reuters report.Ahmed Rasheed and Dominic Evans, “Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit,” Reuters, March 3, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/03/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKBN0LZ10Q20150303. Another Reuters report noted that “Soleimani also directed Iranian-trained Shi’ite militias—including the Badr Brigade.”Mohamed Bazzi, “Iraqis may fear Shi’ite militias more than Islamic State,” Reuters, February 19, 2015, http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/02/19/does-islamic-state-fear- these-guys-as-much-as-their-own-countrymen-do/. RAND Corporation analyst Alireza Nader has written that the Badr Organization “appear[s] to be taking direct orders from Tehran.”Alireza Nader, “Salvaging Iraq,” RAND Corporation, January 26, 2015, http://www.rand.org/blog/2015/01/salvaging-iraq.html. Amiri himself has been photographed with Soleimani as the two discuss battle strategy and celebrate victories.Akbar Shahid Ahmed and Ryan Grim, “What's Wrong With This Picture? For U.S. Fight Against ISIS, Everything,” Huffington Post, November 23, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/obama-isis- iran_n_6165352.html.

In addition to his capacity as the Badr Organization’s military leader, Amiri also heads the group’s political wing. Since it split from political party ISCI in 2012, the Badr Organization has emerged as a prominent political party within Iraq. In December 2010, then–Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appointed Amiri as Iraq’s transportation minister.Michael Eisenstadt, Michael Knights, and Ahmed Ali, “Iran’s Influence in Iraq: Countering Tehran’s Whole-of-Government Approach,” Policy Focus 111 (April 2011), http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/ PolicyFocus111.pdf. In October 2014, Prime Minister Abadi appointed a Badr member, Mohammed Ghabban, as interior minister. At the time of Ghabban’s appointment, the Washington Post’s Loveday Morris wrote that “there is little doubt that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the [Badr Organization] party and its military wing, will wield the real power in the ministry.”Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior- minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html. Ghabban announced his resignation from the post in July 2016.Saif Hameed and Ahmed Rasheed, “Iraq's interior minister resigns after massive Baghdad bomb attack,” Reuters, July 5, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-minister-idUSKCN0ZL1II.

Financing:

The Badr Organization is backed by Iran, according to reports by Reuters and other news outlets, and Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri has confirmed that his group receives support from Iran.“Islamic State torches oil field east of Tikrit—witness,” Reuters, March 5, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/mideast- crisis-iraq-idUSL5N0W727220150305; Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior-minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian- influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html. Senior Badr official Muen al-Kadhimi has said that Iran “helped the group with everything from tactics” to “drone and signals capabilities, including electronic surveillance and radio communications.”Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Isabel Coles, “Special Report: How Iran's military chiefs operate in Iraq,” Reuters, February 24, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-mideast-crisis-committee-specialrepor- idUSKBN0LS0VD20150224.

Recruitment:

Since April 2014, the Badr Organization has established numerous city-based “popular committees” to recruit fighters for its military wing.Phillip Smyth, “Iranian Proxies Step Up Their Role in Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 13, 2014, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy- analysis/view/iranian-proxies-step-up-their-role-in-iraq. After Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa in July 2014 calling on Iraqis to fight ISIS, one Badr Organization recruiter claims to have received 7,000 applications.Maggie Fick, “Underage fighters drawn into Iraq sectarian war,” Reuters, July 11, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/11/us-iraq-security-teenagers-insight- idUSKBN0FG1UG20140711.

Key Leaders

  • Hadi al-Amiri

    Leader and secretary general
  • Muen al-Kadhimi

    Deputy leader; leader in western Baghdad
  • Qasim al-Araji | Badr Organization

    Qasim al-Araji

    Head of parliamentary bloc (as of March 2015)
  • Mohammed Ghabban | Badr Organization

    Mohammed Ghabban

    Iraq’s interior minister and a subordinate to Hadi al-Amiri
  • Karim al-Nouri | Badr Organization

    Karim al-Nouri

    Spokesman and military commander
  • Ali al-Allaq | Badr Organization

    Ali al-Allaq

    Senior member

History

 

Violent Activities

Designations

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

The United Arab Emirates designated “The Badr Organisation in Iraq” as a terrorist organization in November 2014.“List of groups designated terrorist organisations by the UAE,” National (Abu Dhabi), November 16, 2014, http://www.thenational.ae/uae/government/list-of-groups-designated-terrorist-organisations-by-the-uae.

Associations

Ties to Extremist Entities:

Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH)

The Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) are known as “Iran’s three big Iraqi militias.”Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Special Report: The fighters of Iraq who answer to Iran,” Reuters, November 12, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/12/us-mideast-crisis-militias-specialreport-idUSKCN0IW0ZA20141112. Each group is part of the anti-ISIS popular mobilization forces (PMF) also known as Haashid Shaabi, an umbrella organization of Shiite militias. The coalition was formed in June 2014 after Iraq’s then–prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, called for its establishment and Iraq’s highest Shiite authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa urging Iraqis to fight the extremist group ISIS.Phillip Smyth, “Iranian Proxies Step Up Their Role in Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 13, 2014, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iranian-proxies-step-up-their-role-in-iraq. In battles, there is some degree of cooperation between the PMF militias, though each militia leader within the PMF ultimately retains his autonomy.Anne Barnard, “A Balancing Act as Iraq Claims Gains in Tikrit,” New York Times, March 12, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/world/middleeast/tikrit-isis-iraq.html. IRGC-Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has reportedly coordinated military operations for all three militias.Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Special Report: The fighters of Iraq who answer to Iran,” Reuters, November 12, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/12/us-mideast-crisis-militias-specialreport-idUSKCN0IW0ZA20141112.
Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH)

The Badr Organization and Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), along with Asaib Ahl al-Haq, comprise Iraq’s anti-ISIS popular mobilization forces (PMF), also known as Haashid Shaabi.Phillip Smyth, “Iranian Proxies Step Up Their Role in Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 13, 2014, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iranian-proxies-step-up-their-role-in-iraq. In battles against ISIS there is some degree of cooperation between the militias, though each militia leader ultimately retains his autonomy.Anne Barnard, “A Balancing Act as Iraq Claims Gains in Tikrit,” New York Times, March 12, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/world/middleeast/tikrit-isis-iraq.html. IRGC-Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has reportedly coordinated military operations for all three militias.Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Special Report: The fighters of Iraq who answer to Iran,” Reuters, November 12, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/12/us-mideast-crisis-militias-specialreport-idUSKCN0IW0ZA20141112.
Iran

Reuters writes that the Badr Organization is “Iran’s oldest proxy in Iraq.”Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Special Report: The fighters of Iraq who answer to Iran,” Reuters, November 12, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/12/us-mideast-crisis-militias-specialreport-idUSKCN0IW0ZA20141112. According to senior Iraqi politicians, Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri is the commander closest to Iran on the battlefield.Ahmed Rasheed and Ned Parker, “Shi'ite militias expand influence, redraw map in central Iraq,” Reuters, December 31, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/31/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKBN0K909K20141231. Amiri has not denied his group’s relationship with the Iranian regime, once saying, “Iran supported us very well. They gave us weapons, they gave us ammunition, they gave us their military experience.”Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior-minister-opens-door-to- militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html. The Badr Organization has close ties to Iran’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its external branch, the Quds Force.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)

The Badr Brigades militia was formed, trained, and equipped by Iran’s IRGC in 1983, according to the Congressional Research Service.Kenneth Katzman, “CRS Report for Congress: Iran’s Influence in Iraq,” Congressional Research Service, last updated May 22, 2007, http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA468096. As of 2015, Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri retains a close relationship with the leader of IRGC’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, and the Badr Organization itself has reportedly been under Soleimani’s command.Mohamed Bazzi, “Iraqis may fear Shi’ite militias more than Islamic State,” Reuters, February 19, 2015, http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/02/19/does-islamic-state-fear-these-guys-as-much-as-their-own-countrymen-do/. The Quds Force is Iran’s external military branch, charged with spreading Iran’s Islamist ideology and system of governance beyond the country’s borders.Martin Chulov, “Qais al-Khazali: from kidnapper and prisoner to potential leader,” Guardian (London), December 31, 2009, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/dec/31/iran-hostages-qais-al-khazali.

Ties to Extremist Individuals:

Bashar al-Assad
In his tenure as Iraq’s transportation minister, Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri “allegedly allowed Iranian overflights to supply [Assad] with weapons during the regime’s brutal crackdown” on dissidents, according to journalist Susannah George.Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/. The group has reportedly sent thousands of Shiite fighters to Syria. In November 2013, analyst Phillip Smyth testified before Congress that the Badr Organization is “the main contributors of Shia fighters through Syria.” Smyth stated that the Badr Organization is a “key Iraqi Shi’a Islamist militia in Syria. Through their ‘Armed Wing’, Badr has claimed to have sent some 1,500 members to Syria as part of their expeditionary unit called Quwet al-Shahid Muhammed Baqir al-Sadr (the Martyr Muhammed Baqir al-Sadr Forces).”Terrorist Groups in Syria: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade of the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of Representatives, 113th Cong. 17-24 (2013) (statement of Phillip Smyth, Middle East research analyst, University of Maryland), http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg85643/pdf/CHRG-113hhrg85643.pdf. In March 2014, the group allegedly sent an additional 2,000 fighters to Syria.Nazeer Rida, “Iraqi fighters lead attack on the town of Yabroud, say Syrian activists,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), March 4, 2014, http://www.aawsat.net/2014/03/article55329651/iraqi-fighters-lead-attack-on-the-town-of-yabroud-say-syrian-activists.
Qasem Soleimani
Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri is public about his relationship with the leader of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force Qasem Soleimani, calling him “a friend, a good man and a good fighter.”Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/. In 1991, Soleimani reportedly “played a part in planning and administering the military operations of the Badr forces in the Shiite uprising against Saddam.”Ali Mamouri, “The Enigma of Qasem Soleimani and His Role in Iraq,” Al-Monitor, October 13, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/10/the-enigma-behind-qassem-suleimani.html#ixzz3XOJTupLs. A Reuters report from February 2015 describes Soleimani as having directed the Badr Organization.Mohamed Bazzi, “Iraqis may fear Shi’ite militias more than Islamic State,” Reuters, February 19, 2015, http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/02/19/does-islamic-state-fear-these-guys-as-much-as-their-own-countrymen- do/. Hadi al-Amiri has himself been photographed with Soleimani as the two discuss battle strategy and celebrate victories.Akbar Shahid Ahmed and Ryan Grim, “What’s Wrong With This Picture? For U.S. Fight Against ISIS, Everything,” Huffington Post, November 23, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/obama-isis-iran_n_6165352.html.

Rhetoric

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Muen al-Kadhimi, Badr Organization deputy leader, April 2, 2015

“To be honest, everywhere we captured [prisoners from Tikrit] we killed them because they were the enemy.”Rod Nordland, “Iraq Forces, Pushing ISIS Out of Tikrit, Give Few Thanks for U.S. Airstrikes,” New York Times, April 2, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/world/middleeast/isis-forces-pushed-out-of-tikrit.html.

Hadi al-Amiri, Badr Organization leader, March 2015

“[H]elp from Iran is unconditional.”Associated Press, “Iraq Militia Leader Hails Iran’s ‘Unconditional’ Support,” New York Times, March 13, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/03/13/world/middleeast/ap-ml-islamic-state.html.

Karim al-Nouri, Badr spokesman, February 2015

“We don’t want history to record that we conducted an offensive with American cover.”Liz Sly, “Middle East Pro-Iran militias’ success in Iraq could undermine U.S.,” Washington Post, February 15, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iraqs-pro-iranian-shiite-militias-lead-the-war-against-the-islamic-state/2015/02/15/5bbb1cf0-ac94-11e4-8876-460b1144cbc1_story.html.

Hadi al-Amiri, Badr Organization leader, February 2015

“[Qasem Soleimani] advises us. He offers us information, we respect him very much.”Eli Lake, “Iran's Militias Are Taking Over Iraq’s Army,” Bloomberg View, February 3, 2015, hhttp://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s-army.

Hadi al-Amiri, Badr Organization leader, 2015

“The majority of us believe that ... Khamenei has all the qualifications as an Islamic leader. He is the leader not only for Iranians but the Islamic nation. I believe so and I take pride in it… Khamenei would place the interests of the Iraqi people above all else.”Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Isabel Coles, “Special Report: How Iran’s military chiefs operate in Iraq,” Reuters, February 24, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-mideast-crisis-committee-specialrepor- idUSKBN0LS0VD20150224.

Hadi al-Amiri, Badr Organization leader, December 29, 2014

“The day of judgment is coming…We will attack the [Muqdadiyya] area until nothing is left. Is my message clear?”“Iraq: Militias Escalate Abuses, Possibly War Crimes,” Human Rights Watch, February 15, 2015, http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/15/iraq-militias-escalate-abuses-possibly-war-crimesl.