Kata’ib Hezbollah

Executive Summary:

Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) is an Iranian-sponsored, anti-American Shiite militia operating in Iraq with ancillary operations throughout Syria.Farnaz Fassihi, Jay Solomon, and Sam Dagher, “Iranians Dial Up Presence in Syria,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2013, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323864604579067382861808984;
Ned Parker and Raheem Salman, “In defense of Baghdad, Iraq turns to Shi'ite militias,” Reuters, June 14, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/14/us-iraq-security-volunteers-idUSKBN0EP0O920140614;
Associated Press, “Assad relies on foreign fighters in push to retake Aleppo,” Fox News, December 10, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/12/10/assad-relies-on-foreign-fighters-in-push-to-retake-aleppo.html.
During the U.S.-led war in Iraq that began in 2003, KH earned a reputation for planting deadly roadside bombs and using improvised rocket-assisted mortars (IRAMs) to attack U.S. and coalition forces.“Treasury Designates Individual, Entity Posing Threat to Stability in Iraq,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 2, 2009, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg195.aspx; 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. According to U.S. diplomat Ali Khedery, KH is responsible for “some of the most lethal attacks against U.S. and coalition forces throughout the [U.S.-led war in Iraq].”Ali Khedery, “Iran’s Shiite Militias Are Running Amok in Iraq,” Foreign Policy, February 19, 2015,http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/19/irans-shiite-militias-are-running-amok-in-iraq/. The group’s deceased leader, Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi—also known by his alias Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes—was the alleged mastermind behind the U.S. and French embassy bombings in Kuwait in 1983 and the assassination attempt on Kuwait’s emir in 1985.Richard R. Brennan et al., eds., Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: the Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2013), 138-139, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR200/RR232/RAND_RR232.pdf; Ali Khedery, “Iran’s Shiite Militias Are Running Amok in Iraq,” Foreign Policy, February 19, 2015, http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/19/irans-shiite-militias-are-running-amok-in-iraq/; “Treasury Designates Individual, Entity Posing Threat to Stability in Iraq,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 2, 2009, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg195.aspx. The group is suspected of involvement in extrajudicial killings and abductions in Iraq’s Anbar province, including the May 27, 2016, abduction of more than 70 Sunni boys and men from al-Sijir, and the murder of 49 men from Saqlawiyah.“Iraq: Turning a Blind Eye: the Arming of the Popular Mobilization Units,” Amnesty International, January 2017, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde14/5386/2017/en/. The group has gained exclusive control over the Jurf as-Sakr area west of Baghdad where it prevents displaced Sunni residents from returning and operates private prisons.Michael Knights, “Iran’s Expanding Militia Army in Iraq: The New Special Groups,” CTC Sentinel, Vol 12, Issue 17, August 2019, https://ctc.usma.edu/app/uploads/2019/08/CTC-SENTINEL-072019.pdf. In August 2019, Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow Michael Knights assessed that KH posed the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the country.Michael Knights, “Iran’s Expanding Militia Army in Iraq: The New Special Groups,” CTC Sentinel, Vol 12, Issue 17, August 2019, https://ctc.usma.edu/app/uploads/2019/08/CTC-SENTINEL-072019.pdf.

KH’s Ibrahimi was killed in a January 3, 2020, U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The strike also Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). KH joined with other Iran-backed Iraqi militias in calling for revenge against 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. KH security official Abu Ali al-Askari called for renewed suicide attacks.Abu Ali al Askari, Twitter post, January 6, 2020, 3:27 p.m., https://twitter.com/abualiaalaskry/status/1213195091625598977. Askari also threatened to cut off the flow of oil from Iraq and attack U.S. military bases in Iraq if the United States follows through on a threat by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on the country.Abu Ali al Askari, Twitter post, January 6, 2020, 8:38 a.m., https://twitter.com/abualiaalaskry/status/1214179407163731969. Following continued attacks by KH on U.S. interests in March 2020, U.S. defense officials reportedly ordered military commanders in Iraq to draw up plans to destroy KH.Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “Pentagon Order to Plan for Escalation in Iraq Meets Warning From Top Commander,” New York Times, March 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/world/middleeast/pentagon-iran-iraq-militias-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1.

After the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, KH sent fighters to defend the Assad regime in Syria, allegedly at the behest of Soleimani.Michael R. Gordon and Steven Lee Myers, “Iran and Hezbollah Support for Syria Complicates Peace-Talk Strategy,” New York Times, May 21, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/world/middleeast/iran-and-hezbollahs-support-for-syria-complicates-us-strategy-on-peace-talks.html; Suadad al-Salhy, “Iraqi Shi'ite militants fight for Syria's Assad,” Reuters, October 16, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/16/us-syria-crisis-iraq-militias-idUSBRE89F0PX20121016. As KH switched from fighting U.S. forces in Iraq to combating Sunni rebels and extremists in Iraq and Syria, KH has continued to prioritize its anti-American agenda, repeatedly boycotting battles against ISIS in which the U.S. participates.David D. Kirkpatrick, “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq,” New York Times, September 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/world/middleeast/shiite-militias-pose-challenge-for-us-in-iraq.html?_r=0; Saif Hameed, “Iraq special forces advance in Tikrit, U.S. coalition joins fight,” Reuters, March 27, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/27/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKBN0MM0R220150327.

In January 2018, KH, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), and the Badr Organization joined with other Shiite units to form the Fatah Alliance political party ahead of Iraq’s May 2018 elections.Ahmad Majidyar, “Iraqi Hezbollah calls on Baghdad government to set up US exit timeline,” Middle East Institute, March 6, 2018, http://www.mei.edu/content/io/iraqi-hezbollah-calls-baghdad-government-set-us-exit-timeline. The alliance won 47 parliamentary seats in the election, though the parliament soon after called for a manual recount.“Iraqi parliament orders manual election recount,” BBC News, June 6, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44390092. Notwithstanding, on June 11, the Fatah Alliance formed a coalition agreement with Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance, which won the Iraq elections.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; Ali Mamouri, “Sadr allies with Iran-backed coalition to form government in Iraq,” Al-Monitor, June 14, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/06/iraq-election-muqtada-sadr-sairoon-fatah-hadi-amiri-iran.html. This new coalition potentially places Fatah—and by extension KH—in a position to influence the new Iraq government. On July 13, 2018, Iraqi protesters in the country’s south attacked the political offices of KH and other Iran-backed groups as they called for Iran to withdraw from Iraq.Seth J. Frantzman, “Mass Protests Sweep Iraq, Target Pro-Iran Militias and Parties,” Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2018, https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Mass-protests-sweep-Iraq-target-pro-Iran-militias-and-parties-562597.

KH is reportedly the “most secretive” and elite of Iraq’s predominantly Shiite 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; 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. KH has long-standing ties to Iran’s external military branch, the IRGC-Quds Force, as well as to Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.Farnaz Fassihi, Jay Solomon, and Sam Dagher, “Iranians Dial Up Presence in Syria,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2013, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323864604579067382861808984. KH has maintained a presence along the Iraqi-Syrian border since Iranian-backed Syrian and Iraqi militias captured the border town of al-Qaim from ISIS in November 2017.Shelly Kittleson, “Iraqi border eyes Iran influence as US plans Syria pullout,” Al-Monitor, December 27, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/12/iraq-anbar-syria-us-isis.html#ixzz5iyXO6Eu3.

On July 1, 2019, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi issued a decree ordering the militias of the PMF to choose between full integration into the Iraqi armed forces or disarmament by July 31. If the groups oppose integration, they will be considered outlaws. The prime minister’s decree stated that the PMF factions have to choose between either political or paramilitary activity and if they choose politics, they are not allowed to carry weapons.Jared Szuba, “Mahdi orders full integration of Shia militias into Iraq’s armed forces,” July 3, 2019, https://thedefensepost.com/2019/07/03/iraq-mahdi-orders-popular-mobilization-units-integration/.; “Shia militia agrees to integrate into Iraq state army,” Middle East Monitor, July 3, 2019, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190703-shia-militia-agrees-to-integrate-into-iraq-state-army/. The decree was an attempt by Abdul Mahdi at gaining influence over the Iran-backed militias, which boast more than 120,000 fighters. Some critics suggested the United States and Saudi Arabia instigated the decree after U.S. officials concluded that drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil pipeline in May 2018 were launched from Iraq, not Yemen, which raised the concerns over the activities of Iran-backed militias in Iraq.Isabel Coles in Beirut and Dion Nissenbaum, “U.S.: Saudi Pipeline Attacks Originated From Iraq,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-saudi-pipeline-attacks-originated-from-iraq-11561741133. U.S. officials want the Iraqi government to do more to rein in Iranian-allied militias that have grown in power since they helped win the war against ISIS, including preventing them from using Iraqi territory as a launchpad for attacks against the American military or its allies. KH slammed Abdul Mahdi’s decree, calling it a regional and international scheme that “would weaken security” and “strengthen the presence and goals of the American enemy, producing another [ISIS].”Ali Mamouri, “Iraq seeks Iranian assistance to curb militias' reign,” Al Monitor, July 24, 2019, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/iraq-iran-abdul-mahdi-sanction-pmu-militias.html.

According to Mahdi’s decree, all PMF factions must abandon their old names and receive new names in compliance with the regulations of the Iraqi army. The decree forbids political parties and parliamentary blocs from having ties with the PMF. Also, all the headquarters, economic offices, and checkpoints manned by militias are to be shut down.Ali Mamouri, “Iraq orders militias to fully integrate into state security forces,” Al Monitor, July 2, 2019, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/iraq-pmu-iran-abdul-mahdi-shiite-militias.html#ixzz5smS9aPBp. KH has six locations inside Nukhayb adjacent to Saudi territory and still refuses to evacuate Iraq’s international border areas. After U.S. reports of Saudi oil sites being targeted from Iraq, KH considers the decree a Saudi-backed attack as a way to usurp KH’s autonomy.“Kata'ib Hezbollah defies Iraqi PM, threatens Saudi border,” Baghdad Post, July 16, 2019, https://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/Story/42762/Kata-ib-Hezbollah-defies-Iraqi-PM-threatens-Saudi-border. Abdul Mahdi issued a new decree in September 2019 that restructured the PMF’s leadership.Fadhel al-Nashmi, “Iraqi PM Issues New order on PMF Restructuring,” Asharq al-Awsat, September 22, 2019, https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1913381/iraqi-pm-issues-new-order-pmf-restructuring.

In May 2020, former Iraqi intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi became Iraq’s transitional prime minister, despite threats of violence from KH if parliament approved him as premier. Upon his ascension to the office, Kadhimi appointed an American-trained general to head the interior ministry, which had previously been staffed by leaders of Iranian militias. Kadhimi also pledged to fight against government corruption, which has helped Iran gain influence in the Iraqi government. Iran-backed militias have also used anti-corruption protests as cover for violent activities, such as KH’s December 2019 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.Eli Lake, “Iran Is Losing Its Grip in Iraq,” Bloomberg, May 10, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-10/new-iraqi-prime-minister-shows-that-iran-losing-its-grip-in-iraq; “New Iraq PM releases protesters; promotes respected general,” Al Jazeera, May 10, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/iraq-al-kadhimi-pledges-release-anti-government-protesters-200510032625751.html; “Iranian influence in Iraq under threat due to economic crisis, political shifts,” Arab Weekly, May 9, 2020, https://thearabweekly.com/iranian-influence-iraq-under-threat-due-economic-crisis-political-shifts. KH again threatened Kadhimi in June 2020 after security forces arrested 14 militants allegedly planning attacks around Iraq. KH members in more than a dozen armed vehicles protested outside Kadhimi’s residence, demanding the release of their compatriots. Following the militants’ release on June 29, the 14 KH members set fire to posters of Kadhimi, as well as U.S. and Israeli flags. KH told Iraqi media that it will never give up its weapons.Namo Abdulla, “Release of Pro-Iran Militants Signals Governance Challenge in Iraq, Experts Say,” Voice of America, July 1, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/release-pro-iran-militants-signals-governance-challenge-iraq-experts-say?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1332330_; Seth J. Frantzman, “Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq says it will never surrender weapons,” Jerusalem Post, June 30, 2020, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/kataib-hezbollah-in-iraq-says-it-will-never-surrender-weapons-633290?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1329077_.

Doctrine:

According to the U.S. Department of State, KH is “a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western establishment and jihadist ideology.”“Designation of Kata’ib Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” U.S. Department of State, July 2, 2009, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/july/125582.htm. The group is virulently anti-American and ideologically loyal to the Iranian regime.

Anti-American: During the U.S.-led war in Iraq, KH built its reputation by targeting U.S. personnel and interests and killing numerous U.S. soldiers in terrorist attacks.“Hezbollah threatens withdrawal over Baghdad ‘lack of support’,” April 24, 2015, Rudaw, http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/240420151. Since the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, KH has retained its anti-American ideology. KH’s website states that the group’s first goal “was and still remains: thwarting the American project in the region, defeat of the occupation, and expelling them from Iraq, broken and humbled…. As for our jihadi pillars, there are four. Firstly, waging jihad against the occupation until the last American is expelled from Iraq.”“About Kata’ib Hezbollah,” The Islamic Resistance Kata’ib Hezbollah Official Website, http://www.kataibhizbollah.com/institute/2711. In KH’s efforts to fight ISIS in Iraq, KH remains opposed to any cooperation with the United States. In September 2014, for example, KH released a statement saying, “We will not fight alongside the American troops under any kind of conditions whatsoever. [Our only contact with Americans will be] if we fight each other.”David D. Kirkpatrick, “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq,” New York Times, September 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/world/middleeast/shiite-militias-pose-challenge-for-us-in-iraq.html?_r=0. In March 2015, KH’s military spokesman reaffirmed the group’s anti-American position, saying, “It is not possible for Kataib Hizbollah or any of the resistance factions to be in the same trench as the Americans.”Saif Hameed, “Iraq special forces advance in Tikrit, U.S. coalition joins fight,” Reuters, March 27, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/27/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKBN0MM0R220150327. In December 2017, following ISIS’s defeat in Iraq, KH released a statement declaring that “the enemy of humanity, the US, can no longer desecrate Iraqi soil, as the fighters of [KH] will not allow them to do so.”Baxtiyar Goran, “Hezbollah Brigades: US troops will be forced to withdraw from Iraq,” Kurdistan 24, December 30, 2017, http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/582120a4-c8a0-40f1-a652-a9a46a43b926.

Pro-Iranian: KH’s loyalty to Iran is key to the group’s ideology. A 2013 RAND Corporation report claims that “Kata’ib Hezbollah, like Lebanese Hezbollah, is used as a tool to ‘export the Islamic revolution’ as practiced in Tehran.”Richard R. Brennan et al., eds., Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: the Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2013), 138-139, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR200/RR232/RAND_RR232.pdf. KH openly accepts Iran’s vision of velayat-e faqih (Guardianship of the Jurists), a Khomeinist doctrine that calls for religious oversight of the government.Richard R. Brennan et al., eds., Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: the Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2013), 138-139, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR200/RR232/RAND_RR232.pdf. Members of KH swear an oath of loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and accept him as their own spiritual leader.Richard R. Brennan et al., eds., Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: the Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2013), 138-139, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR200/RR232/RAND_RR232.pdf; Ned Parker and Raheem Salman, “In defense of Baghdad, Iraq turns to Shi'ite militias,” Reuters, June 14, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/14/us-iraq-security-volunteers-idUSKBN0EP0O920140614. KH has increasingly targeted Saudi Arabia, which Iran views as a rival for regional hegemony and has engaged with in a proxy war in Yemen. In May 2019, KH attacked two Saudi oil facilities.Michael Knights, “Iran’s Expanding Militia Army in Iraq: The New Special Groups,” CTC Sentinel, Vol 12, Issue 17, August 2019, https://ctc.usma.edu/app/uploads/2019/08/CTC-SENTINEL-072019.pdf. In May 2020, KH spokesman Abu Ali al-Askari called for continued “jihad operations” in Saudi Arabia.“Iraqi Shia militias call for terror attacks in Saudi Arabia,” Middle East Monitor, May 26, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200526-iraqi-shia-militias-call-for-terror-attacks-in-saudi-arabia/.

Organizational Structure:

KH is considered the most secretive Shiite militia operating 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. Little is known about the group’s structure, aside from the fact that KH was led by Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes.Michael Knights, “The Evolution of Iran’s Special Groups in Iraq,” Combatting Terrorism Center, November 1, 2010, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-evolution-of-iran%E2%80%99s-special-groups-in-iraq; Phillip Smyth, “There Is No ‘Good’ Shia Militia in Iraq,” Daily Beast, April 17, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/17/is-there-a-good-shia-militia-in-iraq.html; 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. Ibrahimi died in a January 3, 2020, U.S. airstrike in Iraq.Frank Miles, “Baghdad rocket attack kills Iranian military leaders including Gen. Qassim Soleimani, reports say,” Fox News, January 2, 2020,  https://www.foxnews.com/world/rockets-baghdad-airport-injuries-reported; Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe, “Pentagon launched airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, Defense Sec. Mark Esper says,” Washington Post, January 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/defense-secretary-says-iran-and-its-proxies-may-be-planning-fresh-attacks-on-us-personnel-in-iraq/2020/01/02/53b63f00-2d89-11ea-bcb3-ac6482c4a92f_story.html. In addition to acting as leader of KH, Ibrahimi also served as Iraq’s deputy national security adviser and the deputy commander of the Haashid Shaabi (also called the popular mobilization forces, or PMF), Iraq’s umbrella group of anti-ISIS Shiite militias.Liz Sly, “Pro-Iran militias’ success in Iraq could undermine U.S.,” Washington Post, February 15, 2015, http://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; Phillip Smyth, “There Is No ‘Good’ Shia Militia in Iraq,” Daily Beast, April 17, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/17/is-there-a-good-shia-militia-in-iraq.html. The PMF coordinates anti-ISIS military ventures between KH, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), the Badr Organization, and other predominantly Shiite and Iranian-sponsored militias. KH officially operates as the 45th Brigade of the PMF and controls the 46th Brigade under their affiliate, Saraya al-Difa’ al-Sha’abi.Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “Hashd Brigade Numbers Index,” Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog, October 31, 2017, http://www.aymennjawad.org/2017/10/hashd-brigade-numbers-index.

In addition to carrying out paramilitary activities in Iraq, KH has contributed fighters to pro-Assad forces in Aleppo. Though exact numbers of these fighters are not known, KH had previously claimed in 2015 to have contributed 1,000 fighters to the fight in Aleppo.Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim, “Iran backs Assad in battle for Aleppo with proxies, ground troops,” Washington Post, October 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-backs-battle-for-syrias-aleppo-with-proxies-ground-troops/2015/10/19/b8bec268-765f-11e5-a5e2-40d6b2ad18dd_story.html?utm_term=.7e98b180585b. In 2014, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies estimated the total size of KH to be between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters.“Kataib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades,” Foundation for Defense of Democracy, November 2018, https://www.fdd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Katib_Hezbollah.pdf. However, the U.S. government estimated in 2017 that KH has a total membership of only 400 fighters.“Country Reports on Terrorism 2016,” U.S. Department of State, July 2017, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/272488.pdf. As of December 2016, KH maintained an office in the government-held section of Aleppo, decorated with the group's flags and banners.Associated Press, “Assad relies on foreign fighters in push to retake Aleppo,” Fox News, December 10, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/12/10/assad-relies-on-foreign-fighters-in-push-to-retake-aleppo.html. KH fighters are also reported to have joined Harakat al-Nujaba, an AAH offshoot in Aleppo that is allegedly in part responsible for the slaughter of dozens of Syrian civilians.Phillip Smyth, “Hizballah Cavalcade: Faylak Wa’ad al-Sadiq: The Repackaging of an Iraqi “Special Group” for Syria,” Jihadology, January 13, 2014, http://jihadology.net/2014/01/13/hizballah-cavalcade-faylak-waad-al-sadiq-the-repackaging-of-an-iraqi-special-group-for-syria/;
Martin Chulov, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, and Patrick Wintour, “Iran hails victory in Aleppo as Shia militias boost Syria's Bashar al-Assad,” Guardian (London), December 14, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/14/iran-aleppo-syria-shia-militia.
It is unclear if the KH office in Aleppo remained past the government’s full capture of the city, however KH is known to be operating in the southern Syria governorate of Deir Ez Zor as of June 2018.Weedah Hamzah, “Eastern Syria air strikes toll rises to 52,” Herald Sun, June 18, 2018, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/eastern-syria-air-strikes-toll-rises-to-52/news-story/d826bf6de3c75766111a81f744c94028.

KH belongs to the Fatah political alliance, which received the second most votes in Iraq’s May 2018 elections and quickly entered talks with the election winners—Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance.Weedah Hamzah, “Eastern Syria air strikes toll rises to 52,” Herald Sun, June 18, 2018, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/eastern-syria-air-strikes-toll-rises-to-52/news-story/d826bf6de3c75766111a81f744c94028. This new coalition potentially places Fatah—and by extension KH—in a position to receive important governing positions in the new Iraq government. However, a Fatah leader named Karim al-Nuri claimed that “The new coalition is in tune with the vision of Iran and the United States,” meaning the party would not seek to change Iraq’s post-2003 policy of working with both Iran and the United States.Ali Mamouri, “Sadr allies with Iran-backed coalition to form government in Iraq,” Al-Monitor, June 14, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/06/iraq-election-muqtada-sadr-sairoon-fatah-hadi-amiri-iran.html. In June 2020, Fatah Alliance member Fadhil Fatlawi told Iranian media that the Iraqi parliament was committed to expelling U.S. forces from Iraq.Seth J. Frantzman, “Iran continues to pressure Iraq to get US troops out,” Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/iran-continues-to-pressure-iraq-to-get-us-troops-out-631039. Following Iraq’s October 2021 parliamentary elections, the Fatah Alliance won only 14 seats, decreasing from its 48-seat victory in 2018. KH member and former chief of security Hussein Muanis also ran under the banner of the Harakat Huquq party, winning one seat. He was the first member of KH to openly affiliate with the group in elections, leading to reports KH had officially entered Iraqi politics. KH and Huquq denied any affiliation between the two entities.Qassim Abdul-Zahra, “Iraq’s militias seek to consolidate political power in vote,” Associated Press, October 5, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/hezbollah-baghdad-iran-middle-east-iraq-c30340c8ce4e98be2cf652e9abc18470; Bel Trew, “‘We want real change’: Iraqis vote in early election seen as test of democracy,” Independent (London), October 10, 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-baghdad-elections-democracy-reforms-b1935610.html; Suadad al-Salhy and Alex MacDonald, “Iraq elections 2021: Shia parties reject results as armed group threatens violence,” Middle East Eye, October 12, 2021, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iraq-elections-shia-parties-reject-results-militia-threatens-violence; Dilan Sirwan, “Iraq election results see giant parties fall, unexpected victories,” Rudaw, October 12, 2021, https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/121020212; “Pro-Iranian groups reject early Iraq election results as ‘scam,’” Al Jazeera, October 12, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/12/iraqi-pro-iranian-groups-reject-elections-a-scam.

Beginning in 2019, new Iran-backed militias appeared to emerge and claim responsibility for attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq. Foreign policy and media analysts in Iraq and the United States questioned the validity of claims from these groups based on suspicions they were recycling old video footage and claiming attacks without evidence.Hamdi Malik, “Pro-Iran militias in Iraq wage ‘fake news’ campaign against US,” Al-Monitor, June 2, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/06/iraq-militias-us-iran-pmu.html. One of the groups to emerge during this time was Ashab al-Kahf (“Companions of the Cave,” AK), reportedly a subgroup of KH that first issued a threat against U.S. forces in April 2020.Namo Abdulla, “Iran-backed Militias Resume Rocket Attacks Toward US Embassy in Iraq,” Voice of America, November 19, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/iran-backed-militias-resume-rocket-attacks-toward-us-embassy-iraq?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_. The group claimed responsibility for an attack on a military convoy in July 2020 in the Salaheddin province. AK also claimed responsibility for an August 11 bombing of a U.S. convoy along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, but Iraqi, Kuwaiti, and U.S. sources denied the incident took place.Jon Gambrell, “US says blast hits Iraq convoy, border attack claim false,” Associated Press, August 11, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/dubai-united-arab-emirates-kuwait-middle-east-bombings-2fdd550f5382066bcfd031fe69d65e14. Following the July attack, Iranian media reported that U.S. forces had no choice but to withdraw from Iraq.“US left with no option but to withdraw from Iraq,” Mehr News Agency, July 26, 2020, https://en.mehrnews.com/news/161440/US-left-with-no-option-but-to-withdraw-from-Iraq. AK initially claimed responsibility for a barrage of rockets targeting the U.S. Embassy on November 17, 2020. However, KH and the Fatah Coalition issued a statement denying any responsibility or connection between the rocket attack and Shiite militias after it became public that the rockets had killed an Iraqi child.Namo Abdulla, “Iran-backed Militias Resume Rocket Attacks Toward US Embassy in Iraq,” Voice of America, November 19, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/iran-backed-militias-resume-rocket-attacks-toward-us-embassy-iraq?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1738667_. AK has also been linked to AAH, declaring in December 2020 it would unleash street violence if AAH ordered it.Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Ashab al-Kahf,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 1, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-ashab-al-kahf. AK has denied it has ties to KH, AAH, or any other militias.Evan Kohlmann, “Profile and Exclusive Interview with Iraqi Shiite Insurgents Ashab al-Kahf,” Flashpoint, August 20, 2020, https://flashpoint.io/blog/profile-and-exclusive-interview-with-iraqi-shiite-insurgents-ashab-al-kahf/. In an August 1, 2022, statement, AK accused NATO, the United States, and the United Kingdom of enflaming stoking political tensions in Iraq and threatened to attack their embassies and military bases in Iraq and around the Middle East.Zachary Coles and Nicholas Carl, “Iranian Proxies May Attack US in Response to Iraqi Political Crisis,” Critical Threats, August 3, 2022, https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iranian-proxies-may-attack-us-in-response-to-iraqi-political-crisis.

KH has used other such façade groups to claim responsibility for attacks without directly implicating itself. Qasem al-Jabbarin has claimed roadside bombings targeting Iraqi supply trucks servicing the U.S. military. The group first came to light in 2020 with a September 17 announcement of an attack on a U.S. convoy.Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Qasem al-Jabbarin,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 1, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-qasem-al-jabbarin. Other suspected façade groups linked to KH include Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq,Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 1, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-alwiyat-al-waad-al-haq. Raba Allah,Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Raba Allah,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 9, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-raba-allah. and Usbat al-Thaireen.Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Usbat al-Thaireen,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 20, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-usbat-al-thaireen. Another front group, Liwa Thar Muhandis (LTM) (“Revenge of Muhandis Brigade”), emerged in 2020 with claims of rocket attacks on U.S. forces on May 6 that year at Baghdad’s airport and an April 17 missile attack on U.S. helicopters. While the group has been suspected of links to both KH and AAH, some analysts suspect it has no capabilities for actual attacks and is used only to claim attacks.Crispin Smith, “Profile: Liwa Thar Muhandis,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, July 8, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-liwa-thar-muhandis.

KH has also mobilized online groups. Unit 10,000 specializes in the publication of propaganda and developing online followers for hacking and collecting open-source intelligence.Crispin Smith and Hamdi Malik, “Profile: Unit 10,000,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 25, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-unit-10000. Another electronic façade group, Fatemiyoun Electronic Squad, formed in January 2020 to carry out cyberattacks on behalf of KH by hacking websites and social media accounts and disrupting oppositional social media accounts by mass reporting community violations.Hamdi Malik, “Profile: Fatemiyoun Electronic Squad,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 26, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-fatemiyoun-electronic-squad.

Financing:

According to the U.S. government, KH is primarily funded by the government of Iran and, specifically, Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force.“Treasury Designates Individual, Entity Posing Threat to Stability in Iraq,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 2, 2009, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg195.aspx; “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016,” U.S. Department of State, July 2017, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/272488.pdf. In November 2014, wounded U.S. military veterans and family members of deceased U.S. soldiers filed a lawsuit against European banks for processing money from Tehran that bankrolled terrorist attacks in Iraq. According to the lawsuit, KH allegedly received money from Iran to finance terrorist attacks against U.S. soldiers.Alison Frankel, “U.S. Veterans Sue Banks, Claim They Should Pay for Iraq Attacks,” Reuters, November 10, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/10/us-usa-courts-banking-iran-idUSKCN0IU1Q120141110. Syrians who fight in KH’s Syrian branch also receive their salaries directly from Iran.Aymenn al-Tamimi, “Kata'ib Hezbollah's Syrian Wing: Interview,” Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog, November 17, 2018, http://www.aymennjawad.org/2018/11/kataib-hezbollah-syrian-wing-interview.

KH has also reportedly secured funding through kidnap-and-ransom operations, reportedly taking hostage more than two dozen people in December 2015, including Qatari royals, and releasing the hostages more than a year later in exchange for a large payout.Theodore Karasik, “Is the time up for Iran’s forays in the Middle East?” Al Arabiya, May 30, 2017, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/30/Is-the-time-up-for-Iran-s-forays-in-the-Middle-East-.html. In April 2017, Qatari officials arrived in Baghdad carrying a bag with “millions of dollars” in ransom money, destined for KH and other Islamist groups, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an umbrella group that includes the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.Martin Chulov, “Qatari royal family members used as leverage in Syrian population swap,” Guardian (London), April 14, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/14/besieged-syria-towns-evacuated-as-regime-and-rebels-begin-huge-people-swap;
Callum Paton, “QATAR AND IRAN POISED TO EXCHANGE 26 KIDNAPPED ROYALS FOR TOWNS IN SYRIA AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS,” Newsweek, April 20, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/qatar-and-iran-poised-exchange-26-kidnapped-royals-towns-syria-and-millions-586807;
David Andrew Weinberg and Thomas Joscelyn, “Analysis: Qatar’s ill-timed hostage deal increases pressure on Washington,” Long War Journal, April 22, 2017, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/04/analysis-qatars-ill-timed-hostage-deal-increases-pressure-on-washington.php.
Documents released in April 2018 revealed that the Qatari officials had paid $25 million of a $150 million ransom to KH in 2017.Joby Warrick, “Hacked messages show Qatar appearing to pay hundreds of millions to free hostages,” Washington Post, April 28, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/hacked-messages-show-qatar-appearing-to-pay-hundreds-of-millions-to-free-hostages/2018/04/27/46759ce2-3f41-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7c167ea8ebb7.

KH and fellow PMF unit Liwa al-Tafuf have also taken charge of all PMF activity in western Anbar. Together, the two groups control smuggling and commerce across the Iraq-Syrian border, particularly around the al-Qaim-Abukamal crossing, providing a further source of income for the organizations.Michael Knights, “Iran’s Expanding Militia Army in Iraq: The New Special Groups,” CTC Sentinel, Vol 12, Issue 17, August 2019, https://ctc.usma.edu/app/uploads/2019/08/CTC-SENTINEL-072019.pdf.

Recruitment:

KH has sought to lure recruits by advertising its fight against U.S. forces in Iraq. Following the start of the Syrian civil war, the group also advertised its efforts to support Assad forces in neighboring Syria.

During the U.S.-led war in Iraq, KH filmed attacks against U.S. and coalition targets, publishing the films online for propaganda and recruitment purposes.“Treasury Designates Individual, Entity Posing Threat to Stability in Iraq,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 2, 2009, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg195.aspx. During the Arab Spring, KH and fellow Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) also attempted to attract recruits to fight anti-Assad rebels in Syria by advertising their involvement there. They did so by holding public funerals for fighters in Shiite neighbors in Baghdad, and by posting updates on the groups’ Facebook pages.Ned Parker and Raheem Salman, “In defense of Baghdad, Iraq turns to Shi'ite militias,” Reuters, June 14, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/14/us-iraq-security-volunteers-idUSKBN0EP0O920140614. The two groups also posted phone numbers around Baghdad to attract potential recruits.Ned Parker and Raheem Salman, “In defense of Baghdad, Iraq turns to Shi'ite militias,” Reuters, June 14, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/14/us-iraq-security-volunteers-idUSKBN0EP0O920140614.

KH launched its own website in 2015, but the site had been deleted as of June 2020.“Kataib Hezbollah,” Kataib Hezbollah, accessed May 11, 2015, http://kataibhizbollah.com/; “Kataib Hezbollah,” Kataib Hezbollah, accessed June 23, 2020, http://kataibhizbollah.com/ KH has also developed a digital propaganda team that reportedly included 400 people as of June 2020. An investigation by the British Telegraph newspaper that month found that KH digital propagandists were flooding Facebook with fake accounts and promoted fake news stories to boost its own standing. According to the Telegraph report, Facebook has received millions of dollars in advertising revenue from KH and other Iraqi electronic armies promoting fake news stories on the platform.Wil Crisp and Suadad al-Salhy, “Iraqi groups paying Facebook millions to churn out fake news,” Telegraph (London), June 14, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/06/14/iraqi-groups-paying-facebook-millions-churn-fake-news/.

KH has formed multiple front groups to recruit Iraqi youth. Created in 2012, the Imam Hussein Scout Association is KH’s youth organization and is also affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah's Kishaf al-Imam al-Mahdi (Mahdi Scouts) youth movement. While the scouts provide sports activities, community service, and social activities for youth, they also indoctrinate children to political Islam, specifically KH ideology. KH iconography is visible in scouting videos while scouts have reportedly praised KH and its members.Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Imam Hussein Scout Association,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 29, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-imam-hussein-scout-association. Another KH-linked group targeting Iraqi youth is Sharia Youth Gathering. Like the Imam Hussein Scouts, Sharia Youth Gathering provides sports and social services while indoctrinating youth to KH ideology.Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Sharia Youth Gathering,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 29, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-sharia-youth-gathering-0. The leadership of both groups is allegedly made up of KH members.Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Sharia Youth Gathering,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 29, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-sharia-youth-gathering-0; Crispin Smith, Hamdi Malik, Michael Knights, “Profile: Imam Hussein Scout Association,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 29, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-imam-hussein-scout-association.

Training:

KH members have received training from Iran’s external military wing, the Quds Force, as well as from Lebanese Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy.Bill Roggio, “Iran continues to train Shia terror groups for attacks in Iraq,” Long War Journal, August 15, 2008, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/08/map_details_irans_op.php; “Treasury Designates Individual, Entity Posing Threat to Stability in Iraq,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 2, 2009, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg195.aspx. By 2008, the Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah were running training camps in four locations in Iran (Tehran, Qom, Ahvaz, and Mashhad). There, KH and Iran’s other Shiite militias were trained on the use of small arms and explosives.Bill Roggio, “Iran continues to train Shia terror groups for attacks in Iraq,” Long War Journal, August 15, 2008, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/08/map_details_irans_op.php. Lebanese Hezbollah also ran training camps in southern Iraq until the group was forced to relocate the camps to Iran in April 2008.Associated Press, “US: Quds, Hezbollah training hit squads in Iran,” USA Today, August 16, 2008, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-08-15-3191382404_x.htm. By 2010, training camps in Iran continued to provide KH with training related to small arms, surveillance, small unit tactics, and communications.“U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic Republic of Iran: Hearing before the Committee on Armed Services,” United States Senate One Hundred Eleventh Congress Second Session, U.S. Government Printing Office, April 14, 2010, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg85643/pdf/CHRG-113hhrg85643.pdf. By November 2013, KH members were reportedly being trained in either Iran or Lebanon and then flown to Syria to fight alongside Assad regime 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. By 2015, some KH members were receiving military training at a base near the city of Samarra in northern Iraq.Alice Fordham, “After Retaking Iraqi City, Shiite Militias Accused Of Targeting Sunnis,” NPR, April 7, 2015, http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/04/07/398004441/after-retaking-tikrit-shiite-militias-accused-of-violence-against-sunnis. KH has developed especially close ties with Unit 3800, the Lebanese Hezbollah wing devoted to arming and training Iraqi Shiite militias.Matthew Levitt and Phillip Smyth, “Kataib al-Imam Ali: Portrait of an Iraqi Shiite Militant Group Fighting ISIS,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, January 5, 2015, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/kataib-al-imam-ali-portrait-of-an-iraqi-shiite-militant-group-fighting-isis. In June 2015, the group allegedly helped train Bahraini militants.David Andrew Weinberg, “Bahrain and Iran Expel Each Other’s Diplomats,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, October 5, 2015, http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/david-weinberg-bahrain-and-iran-expel-each-others-diplomats/.

Also Known As:

  • Type of Organization:
    Militia, religious, terrorist, transnational, violent
  • Ideologies and Affiliations:
    Iranian-sponsored, Islamist, jihadist, Khomeinist, Shiite
  • Place of Origin:
    Iraq
  • Year of Origin:
    2006–2007
  • Founder(s):

    Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)

  • Places of Operation:

    Iraq, Syria

Jaafar al-Husseini

Spokesman

Omar Abdullah al-Jbara

Leader (as of April 2015)

Jassim al-Saidi

Commander (as of December 2014)

Abu Hamza

Commander (as of November 2014)

Abu Abdullah

Commander (as of November 2014)

Raad Al Kafaji

Commander (as of November 2014)

Abu Fadl

Commander (as of June 2016)

Erfad

Commander (as of June 2016)

Seyyed Hashem al-Haydari

Former secretary-general

Abu Ali al-Askari

Security leader

Mohammed Mohi

Spokesman

  • Designations
  • Associations
  • Media Coverage
  • Rhetoric

Designations by the U.S. Government:

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

Ties to Extremist Entities:

Ties to Extremist Individuals:

Western Media

Although Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) has been active in Iraq since at least 2007, Western media did not cover the group... Read More

KH statement, August 2022

Statement during the August 5-7 confrontation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel:

“We are not surprised by the assassination of our brethren in Gaza by the Zionist regime. We are astounded by the silence of the Arab world. Repeated Israeli attacks against the resilient Palestinian nation are the unfortunate outcome of normalization of ties with the Zionist regime. Targeted killings and bombardment of residential buildings is a confirmation of the enemy’s criminal approach.”“Aggressions will accelerate fall of ‘child-killing’ Israel: Iranian president,” Tehran Times, August 7, 2022, https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/475399/Aggressions-will-accelerate-fall-of-child-killing-Israel-Iranian.

KH statement, March 2022

In response to a March 13 Iranian strike on an alleged Israeli spy facility in Irbil, Iraq:

“[The] attack on the Mossad headquarters was a reaction to the bombing of the interior of Iran by the Zionists from the territory of Iraq. The bombing of an advanced Israeli base in Erbil by Iranian forces, in which a number of Israeli Mossad officers were killed or wounded, is a process that represents a different phase of the conflict in Iraq.”Seth J. Frantzman, “Pro-Iranian groups in Iraq back Tehran’s attack on US, Israel – analysis,” Jerusalem Post, March 14, 2022, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-701217.

KH statement, February 26, 2021

“The American enemy persists in its criminality and kills the protectors of the nation and the honorable people of the country, not deterred from shedding innocent blood as long as the wages of murder are received from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”John Davison and Maha El Dahan, “Syria condemns ‘cowardly’ U.S. air strikes on Iran-backed militias,” Reuters, February 26, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-syria-strike-int-idUSKBN2AQ1KW.

Abu Ali al-Askari, KH spokesman, May 23, 2020

“You won’t be safe from the cells of the treachery and the hypocrisy of ‘the rest of the malicious tree’ unless Jihadi operations are transferred to Saudi Arabia.”“Iraqi Shia militias call for terror attacks in Saudi Arabia,” Middle East Monitor, May 26, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200526-iraqi-shia-militias-call-for-terror-attacks-in-saudi-arabia/.

Abu Ali al-Askari, KH security official, January 6, 2020

p>“If the fool Trump imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, we will work with friends to prevent the flow of Gulf oil to America, while the air base will be transferred to rubble if he insists on staying in Iraq, and we are ready to help the Iraqi government secure the work of Chinese companies.” (Tweet)Abu Ali al Askari, Twitter post, January 6, 2020, 8:38 a.m., https://twitter.com/abualiaalaskry/status/1214179407163731969.

Abu Ali al-Askari, KH security official, January 3, 2020

“I call for opening the door for registration for martyrdom lovers, to carry out martyrdom operations against the foreign crusaders or the conquering Saints.”(Tweet)Abu Ali al Askari, Twitter post, January 3, 2020, 3:27 p.m., https://twitter.com/abualiaalaskry/status/1213195091625598977.

“About” section, KH official website, undated

“The Hezbollah Brigades derives its goals and pillars from the sharia rulings, on which the formation was based. Our first goal was and still remains: thwarting the American project in the region, defeat of the occupation, and expelling them from Iraq, broken and humbled. The second goal is reclaiming Iraq’s sovereignty and granting all of its people their rights. As for our jihadi pillars, there are four. Firstly, waging jihad against the occupation until the last American is expelled from Iraq.”“About Kata’ib Hezbollah,” The Islamic Resistance Kata’ib Hezbollah Official Website, accessed June 27, 2018, http://www.kataibhizbollah.com/institute/2711.

Jaafar al-Husseini, KH spokesman, September 2017

“Washington is engaged in smuggling and evacuating Islamic State criminals from Iraq.”Ahmad Majidyar, “Kata’ib Hezbollah: We’re Ready to Fight American Troops in Iraq,” Middle East Institute, September 15, 2017, http://www.mei.edu/content/io/kata-ib-hezbollah-we-re-ready-fight-american-troops-iraq.

Jaafar al-Husseini, KH spokesman, September 2017

“The Iraqi people reject American presence on the Iraqi soil and the major violations committed during their occupation. Iraqis stand behind the Islamic resistance factions in the face of America’s presence.”Ahmad Majidyar, “Kata’ib Hezbollah: We’re Ready to Fight American Troops in Iraq,” Middle East Institute, September 15, 2017, http://www.mei.edu/content/io/kata-ib-hezbollah-we-re-ready-fight-american-troops-iraq.

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