Hadi al-Amiri

Hadi al-Amiri is the reported leader and secretary general of the Badr Organization, an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia and political party based in Iraq. Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/. Al-Amiri has a history of instigating sectarian violence in Iraq. In a period of heightened violence between 2004 and 2006, al-Amiri reportedly ordered 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 [al-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. A U.S. federal indictment has linked al-Amiri to a 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. Air Force servicemen.“Terror Attack Victim ‘Sick’ Over Iraqi Minister Hadi al-Ameri’s Visit to White House,” Fox News Insider, December 16, 2011, http://insider.foxnews.com/2011/12/16/terror-attack-victim-sick-over-iraqi-minister-hadi-al-ameris-visit-to-white-house.

Al-Amiri’s military influence extends beyond the confines of the Badr Organization. He serves as the leader of Iraq’s collective Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of Shiite militias controlled by the Iraqi government.Rod Nordland, “After Victory Over ISIS in Tikrit, Next Battle Requires a New Template,” New York Times, April 7, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-anbar-sunni-shiite.html. He also wields control 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, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s-army. Then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reportedly entrusted al-Amiri with command 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, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-03/exclusive-iran-s-militias-are-taking-over-iraq-s-army.

Al-Amiri also serves as the leader of the Badr Organization’s political wing, a party that holds 22 seats in Iraq’s parliament.Patrick Martin, “Analysis of the Badr Organization,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), February 25, 2015, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/analysis-of-the-badr-organization/article23208662/. From 2011 to 2014, al-Amiri served as Iraq’s transportation minister.Hayder al-Khoei, “Decoding Iraq's Sectarian Rivalries: Baghdad's Political Blocs Threaten to Split Apart,” Foreign Affairs, January 31, 2012, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137064/hayder-al-khoei/decoding-iraqs-sectarian-rivalries. When a lesser-known member of the Badr Organization was elected as Iraq’s interior minister in October 2014, it was widely presumed that al-Amiri would serve as the country’s de facto 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.

Today, al-Amiri seeks to rebrand the Badr Organization, casting himself and his organization as a moderate, nationalistic, and inclusive counterweight to violent Sunni terrorist group ISIS. Nonetheless, areas in which the Badr organization has fought 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.

While al-Amiri’s political party has sought to downplay its role as an Iranian proxy, al-Amiri himself remains loyal to Iran’s Supreme Leader. In early 2015, al-Amiri said of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that 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. Al-Amiri also retains a strong relationship with Iran and its deceased military envoy to Iraq, Qasem Soleimani.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; Susannah George, “Breaking Badr,” Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/. According to senior Iraqi politicians, 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.

Badr won 22 parliamentary seats in Iraqi elections in May 2018, the same number of seats it won in 2014.Phillip Smyth, “Iranian Militias in Iraq's Parliament: Political Outcomes and U.S. Response,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 11, 2018, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iranian-militias-in-iraqs-parliament-political-outcomes-and-u.s.-response. Al-Amiri sought Iraq’s premiership but withdrew in September 2018.“Iraq Shi'ite paramilitary leader al-Amiri withdraws candidacy for PM,” Reuters, September 18, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-politics-amiri/iraq-shiite-paramilitary-leader-al-amiri-withdraws-candidacy-for-pm-idUSKCN1LY0ST. In April 2019, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi assigned al-Amiri to oversee construction and protection initiatives in Basra’s Majnoon Oil Field.“Hadi al-Amiri appointed “czar” of Basra,” Iraq Oil Report, April 11, 2019, https://www.iraqoilreport.com/news/hadi-al-amiri-appointed-czar-of-basra-39293/.

Under al-Amiri’s leadership, the Badr Organization has risen to preeminence in both the military and political spheres. One Iraqi official described the Badr Organization, including leader al-Amiri, 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. A Human Rights Watch researcher said of al-Amiri that he 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.

Despite’s Badr’s political rise, al-Amiri has maintained his extremist ties. Al-Amiri was photographed outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on December 31, 2019, as protesters threw stones and torched a security post at the embassy, prompting suspicions that he was encouraging the violence. After the attack, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called al-Amiri an Iranian “proxy” aiding terrorists.Barbara Starr, Kevin Bohn, and Ross Levitt, “US strikes 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia,” CNN, December 29. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/29/politics/us-strikes-iran-backed-militia-facilities-in-iraq-syria/index.html; Ghassan Adnan, Isabel Coles, and Michael Gordon, “Trump Blames Iran After Militia Supporters Try to Storm U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/protesters-attempt-to-storm-u-s-embassy-in-baghdad-11577787978; Seth J. Frantzman, “Pompeo names Iraqi Badr militia leader Hadi al-Amiri as Iranian proxy,” Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2020, https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Pompeo-names-Iraqi-Badr-militia-leader-Hadi-al-Amiri-as-Iranian-proxy-612751. Following the January 3, 2020, deaths of Soleimani and Kata’ib Hezbollah leader Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, a.k.a. Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in a U.S. airstrike, al-Amiri pledged that Badr would join other Iranian-sponsored Iraqi militias in seeking revenge on the United States.Simon Kerr, Chloe Cornish, and Andrew England, “Middle East braced for backlash after killing of Qassem Soleimani,” Financial Times, January 3, 2020, https://www.ft.com/content/52a2fce4-2e0f-11ea-a126-99756bd8f45e; Shelly Kittleson, “Iraqi armed factions vow revenge for Shiite commanders’ killings,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/01/soleimani-assassination-iran-iraq-us-pmu.html.

 
United Arab Emirates
November 2014

The United Arab Emirates designated the Badr Organization 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.

Return to Full Database

Take action:

Help Counter Extremism

Stay updated on the latest

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

God forbid, if a time comes when we have no choice but to watch our citizens breathe their final breaths, and when there are no ventilators… we will make six million Israeli settlers unable to breathe.

Yahya Sinwar, Leader of Hamas in Gaza Apr. 2, 2020
View Archive

CEP on Twitter