For immediate release | Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, and the Badr Organization

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Iraqi Shiite Militias Suspected in Kidnapping of Three Americans 

(New York, NY) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today released updated resources on three powerful Iraqi Shiite militias. An Iranian-backed Shiite militia is reportedly responsible for the disappearance of three Americans from an apartment in the southeastern Dora district of Baghdad, Iraq, on January 15.

The three men, all civilians, are reportedly employed by a small company that is doing work for an American defense contractor, and are the first Americans abducted in Iraq since 2011.

The three militias, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), and the Badr Organization, are part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a government sanctioned umbrella group composed of predominantly Shiite fighters with strong ties to Iran.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) claimed responsibility for more than 6,000 attacks on American and Iraqi forces. Its founder and leader, Qais al-Khazali, reportedly led the January 2007 attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers. Today, AAH continues to commit sectarian violence, carry out homophobic attacks, and threaten the “interests” of Western countries participating in strikes in Syria. 

Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) is an Iranian-sponsored, anti-American Shiite militia that earned a reputation for targeting U.S. and coalition forces with roadside bombs and improvised rocket-assisted mortars. KH fought with the Assad regime in Syria at the behest of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). KH has remained virulently anti-American, repeatedly boycotting battles against ISIS in which U.S. airpower contributes. In 2009. the U.S. Treasury Department designated Kata'ib Hezbollah and its leader, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, for threatening stability in Iraq, declaring that KH and al-Mohandes “committed, directed, supported, or posed a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces.”

The Badr Organization began in 1983 as the military wing of an Iraqi political party that wanted to bring Iran’s Islamic Revolution to Iraq and fought with Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. The Badr Organization is run by Hadi al-Amiri, who has a history of instigating sectarian violence in Iraq. He has also been linked to a 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. Air Force servicemen.