Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq

The Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq group is a Shi'a milita group funded by Iran operating in Iraq and Syria.

AT A GLANCE

Overview

Brief Summary of the Organization's History

Organization

How does a group organize? Who leads it? How does it finance operations?

Strategy

How does a group fight? What are its aims and ideologies? What are some of its major attacks?

Major Attacks

What are the group's most famous attacks? What are some key attacks in the group's evolution?

Interactions

What is the group's relationship with the community? How does it interact with other groups?

Maps

What is the group's relationship with other militants over time?

Stats

2006 First Recorded Activity
2018 Last Recorded Activity

Contact

Send a message to the Mapping Militants team.

How To Cite

Mapping Militant Organizations. "Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq." Last modified July 2018. <https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/asaib-ahl-al-haq>

Overview

Brief History

    Overview
  • Overview
  • Narrative

Overview

 

Formed2006
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackJuly-August 2006: Elements of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq fought alongside Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon-Israeli War. (casualities unknown)
Last AttackNovember 2017: Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq participated in the offensive on Abu Kamal. This town was very strategically significant and enabled Iran to set up a supply route from Iran to Lebanon, which facilitated Iranian assistance to Hezbollah. (unknown killed, unknown wounded)
UpdatedJuly 2018

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) is an Iranian-funded Shiite militant and political organization that split off from the Mahdi Army in 2006 under the leadership of Qais al-Khazali.  The group is funded by Iran and promotes Iran’s interests in Iraq. It primarily targeted U.S. troops prior to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 after which point AAH rebranded itself as a political organization.  Since the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in late 2013, the AAH has been fought alongside the Iraq government against IS. In 2017 it became a member of the Fatah coalition in the Iraqi government and won 14 seats in the Iraqi Parliament. 

Narrative

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) is an Iranian-funded Shiite militant organization), also sometimes called the Khazali Network. It formed in January 2006 by Qais al-Khazali as a splinter group from the Mahdi Army. It is often referred to as one of the Special Groups, a term used by the U.S. military to denote the Iranian-controlled Shiite militias operating in Iraq.[i]Prior to founding AAH, Khazali was the commander of a military brigade within Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. However, Khazali and his followers had already begun to act independently of Sadr and the Mahdi Army by 2004.  Most notably, Khazali’s brigade continued to fight U.S. troops in the summer of 2004 despite Sadr’s orders that the Mahdi Army to lay down its arms.[ii]  Khazali quickly reconciled with Sadr; however, in 2006, he was recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to lead a new militia that they had recently begun training in Iraq. He and the majority of his brigade split from the Mahdi Army in early 2006, joining Iran’s newly trained militia and founding AAH. Since its inception, AAH has relied heavily on Iranian funding, training, and logistical support, and in return has acted as an Iranian proxy in Iraq, carrying out its agenda and promoting its interests.[iii]

Shortly after or perhaps even simultaneously to its creation, AAH elements fought alongside its fellow Iranian-proxy organization Hezbollah in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War.[iv]AAH’s fighters performed well, having been extensively trained and funded by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps (IRGC).[v]The group was, and continues to be, under the personal supervision of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC Quds Force, and has retained close ties with Hezbollah since its inception.[vi]

Despite fighting against Israel in 2006, AAH’s main targets at the time were the U.S. coalition troops in Iraq.  Between 2006 and 2011, the group claimed responsibility for over 6,000 attacks on U.S. forces.[vii]Following one particularly deadly attack in March 2007 in which five Americans were killed in Karbala, U.S. forces captured Khazali and Hezbollah commander Ali Musa Daqduq. Akram al-Kabi, a close confidante of Khazali’s and one of the AAH’s top military commanders, temporarily assumed command of the organization until Khazali’s release.  Shortly following, in 2008, Muqtada al-Sadr’s demanded that al-Kabi re-unite AAH with the Mahdi Army but he refused.[viii]  Following the Iraqi Army’s seizure of Basra in 2008, many of AAH’s leaders fled to Iran. In contrast, the Mahdi Army negotiated a peace with the government. 

While in Iran, exiled AAH members received additional training and logistical support from the Iranian government and IRGC.[ix]AAH members who remained in Iraq continued to target coalition forces as well as the former Mahdi Army fighters who made peace with the Iraqi government.[x]In December 2009, the AAH orchestrated Khazali’s release in exchange for Peter Moore, a British computer consultant that the AAH had taken hostage along with his four bodyguards in May 2007.  Moore’s four bodyguards were killed by AAH while in captivity.[xi]In February 2010 the group took another Western hostage, U.S. Department of Defense contractor Issa T. Salomi. Salomi was released in March 2010 in exchange for the release of four AAH fighters who were being held by the Iraqi government.[xii]

Following the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011, AAH reoriented itself towards politics, rebranding itself from an anti-Western Islamist militia to an Iraqi nationalist political party.  It shifted its goals from attacking U.S. troop installations to maintaining a Shiite-controlled Iraqi state, expanding Iranian influence in Iraq, eclipsing the Sadrists as the most influential Shiite group in Iraq, and providing social services to Iraq’s Shiite population. AAH also expanded its operations and established a political office in Beirut, Lebanon, where it maintained close ties to Hezbollah. Yet despite its new focus, the group did not renounce its former militancy and refused to surrender its weapon cashes to the Iraqi government.[xiii]

Shortly after the U.S. withdrew in 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki invited the group to enter the political process.[xiv]In 2012, the group attempted to garner support for its pro-Iranian political agenda by launching a massive poster campaign, in which it distributed over 20,000 posters of Ayatollah Khamenei throughout Iraq.[xv]It also conducted a series of assassinations of Sadrist leaders, hoping to weaken the group and take its place as the preeminent Shiite political faction in the country.[xvi]In the 2014 Iraqi parliamentary elections, AAH’s political party, al-Sadiqoon, allied with Maliki’s Dawlat al-Qanoon coalition and won a single seat in the parliament.[xvii]

From 2011-2014, the AAH also became known for its commitment to use violence on behalf of the Maliki government and for stoking sectarian violence. Following its entrance into the political process, the group quickly earned itself a reputation for being the military muscle behind Maliki’s Shiite political faction.[xviii]  For instance, in 2013, the Maliki government allegedly used AAH fighters to police the Anbar province in lieu of the Iraqi police.[xix]Then towards the end of 2013 and into 2014, reports surfaced of AAH fighters rounding up and either jailing or executing anti-Maliki Sunni Arab tribesmen in southern and central Iraq. For instance, Human Rights Watch reported that AAH fighters killed 109 Sunni men in the outskirts of Baghdad between March and early July of 2014.[xx]

During this period, the AAH has also been active in the conflicts in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State (IS).[xxi]AAH initially entered the Syrian civil war in 2011, fighting alongside Hezbollah to prop up the pro-Iranian Assad regime.  Other than Hezbollah, AAH is considered the most important foreign militant organization fighting for Assad. In 2013, AAH in conjunction with Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), established Hakarat Hizb Allah al-Nujaba, a front organization used to channel AAH and KH fighters into Syria.[xxii]More recently, as the most powerful pro-Maliki militia in Iraq, AAH has been deployed to some of the most contested areas in Iraq in the battle against IS. For instance, the group has recently been leading the Shiite militias in the heavily contested city of Amerli.[xxiii]Iran has continued to provide AAH with significant amounts of financial and logistical aid.  New AAH recruits are often taken to Iran for two weeks of intense training with the IRGC before being sent to the front lines. The Iranian government also pays the families of those soldiers who die in battle up to $5,000 in addition to the cost of the burial.[xxiv]  Currently the group also seeks to shore up the Assad regime in Syria, to turn back the advance of the Islamic State (IS) in both Syria and Iraq, and to secure Iranian strategic interests.[xxv]

The AAH’s operations are primarily conducted under the framework of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an alliance of Shia militant groups organized in 2014. As part of the PMF, AAH played an instrumental role in retaking ISIS territory. The PMF is an important source of influence and recruitment for the AAH—through it, the AAH gained many recruits amongst the Shia tribesman of Iraq. [xxvi]The PMF’s enjoy widespread support among the Iraqi people and receive financial and military support from both Iran and Iraq. The PMF’s remain partially integrated in the Iraqi state system.[xxvii]

Despite having opposed the U.S. during its occupation of Iraq, AAH shifted when the IS threat emerged. In 2015, an AAH spokesman released a statement announcing that it was willing to accept a U.S. military presence in Iraq, under the supervision of the Iraqi government.  He reiterated that AAH leadership does not trust the Americans and believes their ultimate goal is to fragment Iraq so as to increase the relative strength of Israel.[xxviii]  In March 2016, reports surfaced that AAH was in possession of a number of U.S. vehicles and military equipment, including at least two M113 armored personnel carriers.[xxix]However, on March 21, 2016, AAH released a statement via its TV channel, al-Ahd, stating, “If the U.S. administration doesn’t withdraw its forces immediately, we will deal with them as forces of occupation.”  The statement is believed to have been released in response to Washington’s announcement the previous week that it had sent a detachment of the 26thMarine Expeditionary Unit to Iraq to bolster coalition efforts against the Islamic State.[xxx]

In 2017, AAH played integral roles in multiple offensives in conjunction with the PMFs. Perhaps most notably, the AAH participated in the al-Qa’im and Kirkuk offensives against the Islamic State.[xxxi]Photos of the al-Qa’im offensive show the AAH using expensive military equipment, and what allegedly appears to be an Iranian T-72 tank.[xxxii]The AAH also continued their sectarian activities and reportedly raided the houses of many Sunnis in Kirkuk.[xxxiii]Despite the fact that the AAH is deploying under the PMU framework, it appears to have significant independence as AAH banners were reportedly flying over areas in Kirkuk. 

Crucially, AAH also helped take the town of Abu Kamal on the eastern border of Syria in November of 2017.[xxxiv]While this episode occurred as part of the counter-ISIS program in Syria, it is illustrative of the ways that Iran has used it proxy forces to pursue strategic depth in the Middle East, particularly vis-à-vis Israel. Analysts describe this as a town of great strategic importance as it enables Iran to create a land route from Iran to Lebanon, enabling the supplying of ordnance to Hezbollah.[xxxv]This capture served as precursor to a visit by Qais al-Khazali  to the Israel-Lebanon border with a Hezbollah escort.[xxxvi]Khazali stated that “We declare our full readiness to stand united with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli occupation.”[xxxvii]An AAH spokesperson later clarified that “It’s a clear message to the Israeli entity, as well as solidarity with the Lebanese people if the Israeli entity attacks them.”[xxxviii]This appearance indicates the links between different militant groups that are supported by Iran and also the ability for movement of ordinance and forces between these groups through an Iranian-supported network. 

In 2017, AAH also made significant political moves. In May 2017, the Iraqi electoral commission approved the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Party, replacing the previous political wing of the group called al-Sadiqoon.[xxxix]In January of 2018, the party joined a coalition called Fatah al Mubin (Manifest Victory) which consists primarily of PMF militias supported by Iran.[xl]It appears as if though this party is an Iranian attempt to gain more influence in Iraq. Spokesmen for AAH indicated a clear desire to expel US forces during the run up to the election.[xli]

AAH and the Fatah coalition ended up being quite successful during the election: out of the 329 seats in the Iraqi parliament, Fatah won the second most at 47 seats, behind Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon alliance (who won 54 seats). In particular, AAH won 14 of these seats.[xlii]The Sairoon alliance and Fatah were able to form a coalition,[xliii]which former Iraqi PM Abadi soon joined.[xliv]This three-way coalition has 143 seats, still short of the 165 seats required for a ruling bloc. Following the election, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass a bill that would sanction members of AAH.[xlv]As of July 2018, this bill was still before the Senate. 



[i]Jawad al-Tamimi. “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists.” Islamist Gate, 6 March 2014. Web. 20 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.

[ii]Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.

[iii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.  

[iv]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[v]Mamouri, Ali. “The Rise of ‘Cleric Militias’ in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. T. Huffman), 23 July 2013. Web. 30 July 2015; Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[vi]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[vii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[viii]Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.

[ix]Mamouri, Ali. “The Rise of ‘Cleric Militias’ in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. T. Huffman), 23 July 2013. Web. 30 July 2015.

[x]Jawad al-Tamimi. “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists.” Islamist Gate, 6 March 2014. Web. 20 July 2015.

[xi]“Hostage Peter Moore ‘surprised’ by Asaib Ahl al-Haq apology.” BBC News, 8 July 2014. Web. July 31 2015; Rayner, Gordon. “Peter Moore: US ‘arranged secret prisoner exchange.’” The Telegraph, 1 Jan 2010. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xii]Watson, Julia. “Issa Salomi, U.S. Contractor, Recounts Iraq Kidnapping.” The Huffington Post, 25 May 2011.  Web. 30 July 2015.

[xiii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.  

[xiv]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[xv]“Iran ayatollah is poster boy for influence in Iraq.” Yahoo News, 25 September 2012. Web. 12 Aug. 2013

[xvi]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[xvii]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.  

[xviii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[xix]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xx]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.  

[xxi]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xxii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xxiii]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xxiv]Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015.

[xxv]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015; Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xxvi]Mansour, Renad, and Faleh A. Jabar. "The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq's Future." Carnegie Endowment. April 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://carnegieendowment.org/files/CMEC_63_Mansour_PMF_Final_Web.pdf; Ezzeddine, Nancy, and Erwin Van Ween. "Power in Perspective: CRU Policy Brief Four Key Insights into Iraq’s Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi." Clingendael. June 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018; https://www.clingendael.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/PB_Power_in_pers....

[xxvii]Mansour, Renad, and Faleh A. Jabar. "The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq's Future." Carnegie Endowment. April 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018; Ezzeddine, Nancy, and Erwin Van Ween. "Power in Perspective: CRU Policy Brief Four Key Insights into Iraq’s Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi." Clingendael. June 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018.

[xxviii]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xxix]Weiss, Caleb. “Iraqi Shia militias show US-made equipment on road to Samarra.” The Long War Journal, Threat Matrix, 4 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[xxx]“Iran-Backed Militia Demands Withdrawal of U.S. Force in Iraq.” Asharq Al-Awsat, 21 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[xxxi]"PMU Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq Participating in Al-Qa'im Offensive." ISIS Live Map. December 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://isis.liveuamap.com/en/2017/3-november-pmu-asaib-ahl-alhaq-participating-in-alqaim-offensive; Cafarella, Jennifer. "Iran's Role in the Kirkuk Operation in Iran." Institute for the Study of War. November 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran’s-role-kirkuk-operation-iraq.

[xxxii]"PMU Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq Participating in Al-Qa'im Offensive." ISIS Live Map. December 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://isis.liveuamap.com/en/2017/3-november-pmu-asaib-ahl-alhaq-partic....

[xxxiii]"IMIS’ Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq Raids Houses of Sunni Kurds in Kirkuk." Baghdad Post. October 18, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/story/18432/IMIS-Asa-ib-Ahl-al-Haq-raid....

[xxxiv]"The Syrian Civil War - Update 06 12 2017." Trumppendienst, December 7, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.truppendienst.com/themen/beitraege/artikel/der-syrische-buer....

[xxxv]Spyer, Jonathan. "BEHIND THE LINES: WHO IS QAIS AL-KHAZALI, AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?" Jersualem Post, December 15, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Behind-The-Lines-Who-is-Qais-al-Khazali-and-why-should-you-care-518131; Majidyar, Ahmad. "Syrian, Iranian-Led Forces Capture Abu Kamal, Threaten to Confront U.S. and S.D.F." Middle East Institute. November 8, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.mei.edu/content/article/io/syria-iranian-led-forces-capture-a....

[xxxvi]"Ran-backed Iraqi Militant Commander Visits Lebanon-Israel Border." Ynet, December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5054228,00.html.

[xxxvii]"Lebanese PM Slams Visit by Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Chief to Israeli Border." The Times of Israel. December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-pm-slams-iran-backed-iraqi-militi....

[xxxviii]"Lebanese PM Slams Visit by Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Chief to Israeli Border." The Times of Israel. December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-pm-slams-iran-backed-iraqi-militi....

[xxxix]"Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq Shiite Militia Founds Political Party." Baghdad Post. May 24, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/story/11011/Asa-ib-Ahl-al-Haq-Shiite-mi....

[xl]Toumaj, Amir, and Romany Shaker. "Iranian-backed Iraqi Militias Form Coalition Ahead of Parliamentary Elections." Long War Journal, January 25, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/01/iranian-backed-iraqi-mil....

[xli]Majidyar, Ahmad. "Iran-backed Asaib Ahl Al-Haq: We’ll Form next Iraqi Government and Will Expel US Forces." Middle East Institute, February 27, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.mei.edu/content/io/iran-backed-asaib-ahl-al-haq-we-ll-form-ne....

[xlii]Harris, Bryant. "Congress Targets Election Winners in Iraq." Al-Monitor, May 30, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/congress-target-winne....

[xliii]"Iraq's Sadr Announces Political Alliance with Pro-Iranian Bloc." Al-Jazeera, June 13, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraq-sadr-announces-political-all....

[xliv]"Iraqi PM Al-Abadi and Shia Leader Al-Sadr Announce Alliance." Al-Jazeera, June 23, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraqi-pm-al-abadi-shia-leader-al-....

[xlv]Harris, Bryant. "Congress Targets Election Winners in Iraq." Al-Monitor, May 30, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/congress-target-winne....

 

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Qais al-Khazali (2006-Present)
  • Laith al-Khazali (2006-present)
  • Mohammed al-Tabatabai (Unknown-Present)
  • Akram al-Kabi (2006 to Present)
  • Ali Mussa Daqduq (Unknown to Present)
  • Hassan Salem (Unknown to Unknown)

Leadership

This section describes various leaders, their deputies, and other important officials in the militant organization. 

 

Qais al-Khazali (2006-Present)

Khazali is the founder and current leader of AAH. He was a pupil of the prominent Shiite cleric Mohammad Sadiq al-Sadr and served as a military commander in Sadr’s son Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army until he broke with the group in 2006. The U.S. captured Khazali in May 2007, held him prisoner until they released him in a prisoner exchange in March 2010, during which time Akram al-Kabi led AAH.[i]



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Mamouri, Ali. “The Rise of ‘Cleric Militias’ in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. T. Huffman), 23 July 2013. Web. 30 July 2015; Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.

 

Laith al-Khazali (2006-present)

Laith al-Khazali is Qais al Khazali’s brother, and has been a member of AAH’s core leadership since its inception in 2006.[i]



[i] Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

 

Mohammed al-Tabatabai (Unknown-Present)

Tabatabai is among AAH’s core leaders.  He became a trusted friend of Qais al-Khazali while studying under Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr in the 1990s.[i]



[i]Wing, Joel. “Analysis Of The History And Growth Of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, The League Of The Righteous, An Interview With Institute for the Study of War's Sam Wyer.” Musings on Iraq, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. 31 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

 

Akram al-Kabi (2006 to Present)

Kabi has been one of the key leaders of AAH since its creation in 2006, before which he was one of the foremost military commanders in the Mahdi Army. Kabi assumed leadership of AAH after Khazali’s capture in March 2007, relinquishing the position in May 2010 when Khazali was released. He is currently serving as the leader of Hakarat Hizb Allah al-Nujaba, which is a front organization established by AAH and Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) in 2013 to which they send fighters to support Assad in Syria.[i]



[i]“Hakarat Hizb Allah al-Nujaba.” Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, Date unknown. Web. 3 Aug. 2015; Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.

 

Ali Mussa Daqduq (Unknown to Present)

While not officially a member of AAH, Daqduq is a senior Hezbollah operative who is in charge of coordinating AAH and Hezbollah operations and often has served as a liaison between AAH and the Iranian government.  He is also a senior advisor to Qais al-Khazali and was captured by the U.S. with the Khazali brothers in 2007.  He was released on November 16, 2012 by the Iraqi government.[i]



[i]Gordon, Michael R. "Hezbollah Trains Iraqis in Iran, Officials Say". New York Times, 5 May 2008. Web. 3 August 2015; Gordon, Michael. "Against U.S. Wishes, Iraq Releases Man Accused of Killing American Soldiers". New York Times, 16 November 2012. Web. 3 August 2015.

 

Hassan Salem (Unknown to Unknown)

Salem was believed to be the head of AAH’s militia branch in 2012 when the group carried out a series of political assassinations.[i]

Qasem Soleimani (2006-Present): Soleimani is the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, the division within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in charge of extra-national militant activities and clandestine services.  Although not a member of AAH, Soleimani is responsible for establishing and funding the group and is believed to have personally supervised and directed AAH’s activities.[ii]

 



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[ii]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; "Iran's Spymaster Soleimani Counters U.S. Moves in the Mideast - WSJ". WSJ, 6 April 2012. Web. 3 August 2015.

 

    Name Changes
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations

Name Changes

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq is also known as the Khazali Network or the Khazali Special Groups Network.[i]



[i] Cochrane, Marisa. "Asaib Ahl Al‐Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network." Asaib Ahl Al‐Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network, January 13, 2008. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/reports/Asaib Ahl al Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.pdf.

 

Size Estimates

  • 2007: 3000 (Associated Press/Fox News) [i]    
  • February 9, 2014: 1,000 – 5,000 (The Washington Post)[ii]
  • March 15, 2015: 10000 (Voice of America)[iii]


[i]Associated Press. "Insurgents Who Killed Five GIs in Brazen Karbala Attack Captured." Foxnews.com. Fox News, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 02 Dec. 2011.

[ii]Morris, Loveday. “Shiite militias in Iraq begin to remobilize.” The Washington Post, 9 February 2014. Web. 8 August 2014

[iii]Hilburn, Matthew. "One-time US Prisoner Now Key in Battling IS." Voice of America, March 15, 2015. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.voanews.com/a/qais-khazali-onetime-us-prisoner-now-key-in-ba....

 

Resources

AAH is an Iranian proxy-organization in Iraq and as such receives extensive funding from the Iranian government.  Iraqi intelligence officials estimate that AAH receives between $1.5-$2 million a month from the Iranian government.[i]Much of this money is channeled through the Quds Force under the direction of Qasem Soleimani.  The Quds Force and IRGC also help to train and equip AAH soldiers.New recruits to AAH are often sent to either Iran or to Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon for a two-week training course before being deployed in the field.[ii]Iran also pays the families of killed AAH fighters up to $5,000 and will often also cover the cost of the fallen fighter’s burial.[iii]

Additionally, there are unconfirmed reports that AAH has received funding from former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and that some AAH fighters have been recruited into a special paramilitary force led by Maliki himself. Maliki, too, receives significant aid and support from Iran.[iv] In March 2016, reports surfaced on international media outlets that AAH and Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), another Iranian-funded Iraqi Shiite militia, were seen transporting and manning U.S. made vehicles and other military equipment in Samarra, where the two militias were engaged fighting IS.  It remains somewhat unclear how the vehicles and equipment came into AAH and KH possession.[v] In November 2017, social media images of an AAH offensive in Al-Qa’im show the AAH using what appears to be an Iranian T-72 tank, although this is unconfirmed. AAH fighters also appear to be wearing extensive military equipment.[vi]

 



[i]Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015.

[ii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iii]Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iv]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; Mamouri, Ali. “Transitional Justice Fails in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. P. Menassa), 23 July 2013. Web. 3 August 2015; Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015.

[v]Weiss, Caleb. “Iraqi Shia militias show US-made equipment on road to Samarra.” The Long War Journal, Threat Matrix, 4 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[vi]"PMU Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq Participating in Al-Qa'im Offensive." ISIS Live Map. December 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://isis.liveuamap.com/en/2017/3-november-pmu-asaib-ahl-alhaq-partic....

 

Geographic Locations

 

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

AAH operates primarily within Iraq and is headquartered in Baghdad where it has two political offices.  It also maintains offices in al-Khalis, Basra, Tal Afar, Hillah, and Najaf and has contacts with tribal leaders in the Dhi Qar, Muthanna, and Maysan provinces.[i]After his release from custody in 2010, Khazali and other AAH leaders relocated to Iran, from where they continued to dictate AAH operations. After the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, the majority of the AAH leadership returned to Baghdad.[ii]In 2013, reports surfaced that the Maliki government was using AAH fighters in lieu of the Iraqi police force in the Anbar province and subsequently as riot police in Baghdad.[iii]  Most recently, in 2016 AAH and Kata’ib Hezbollah have been engaged fighting IS in and around the central Iraqi city of Samarra.[iv]

After the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, AAH began to operate outside of Iraq.  Although elements of AAH had fought alongside Hezbollah in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, up until 2011 the group’s area of operations was predominantly limited to Iraq. In 2011, however, the group established a political presence in Lebanon and sent representatives to meet with Hezbollah, Hamas, and Lebanese government officials.[v]The same year, AAH began to send fighters to Syria on Iran’s orders to fight alongside Hezbollah and Assad government forces.[vi]

In 2013, AAH joined with Kata’ib Hezbollah to form a front group, Hakarat Hizb Allah al-Nujaba, to which they route their soldiers to fight for Assad in Syria.[vii]After AAH helped take the town of Abu Kamal in Syria,[viii]a town which analysts say has great strategic importance as it enables the supplying of ordnance to Hezbollah,[ix][x]Qais al-Khazali visited the Israel-Lebanon border with a Hezbollah escort.[xi]Khazali stated that “We declare our full readiness to stand united with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli occupation.”[xii]An AAH spokesperson later clarified that “It’s a clear message to the Israeli entity, as well as solidarity with the Lebanese people if the Israeli entity attacks them.”[xiii]This appearance indicates the links between different militant groups that are supported by Iran and also the ability for movement of ordinance and forces between these groups through an Iranian-supported network.

 



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[ii]Mamouri, Ali. “The Rise of ‘Cleric Militias’ in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. T. Huffman), 23 July 2013. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iii]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[iv]Weiss, Caleb. “Iraqi Shia militias show US-made equipment on road to Samarra.” The Long War Journal, Threat Matrix, 4 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[v]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[vi]Mamouri, Ali. “Transitional Justice Fails in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. P. Menassa), 23 July 2013. Web. 3 August 2015.

[vii]Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015.

[viii]"The Syrian Civil War - Update 06 12 2017." Trumppendienst, December 7, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.truppendienst.com/themen/beitraege/artikel/der-syrische-buer....

[ix]Spyer, Jonathan. "BEHIND THE LINES: WHO IS QAIS AL-KHAZALI, AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?" Jersualem Post, December 15, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Behind-The-Lines-Who-is-Qais....

[x]Majidyar, Ahmad. "Syrian, Iranian-Led Forces Capture Abu Kamal, Threaten to Confront U.S. and S.D.F." Middle East Institute. November 8, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.mei.edu/content/article/io/syria-iranian-led-forces-capture-a....

[xi]"Ran-backed Iraqi Militant Commander Visits Lebanon-Israel Border." Ynet, December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5054228,00.html.

[xii]"Lebanese PM Slams Visit by Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Chief to Israeli Border." The Times of Israel. December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-pm-slams-iran-backed-iraqi-militi....

[xiii]"Lebanese PM Slams Visit by Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Chief to Israeli Border." The Times of Israel. December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-pm-slams-iran-backed-iraqi-militi....

 

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

AAH is a Shiite organization that promotes the ideals of the Iranian Revolution, most notably the wilayat al-faqih (guardianship of the jurists). This is the complete implementation of political Islam under a faqih, or Islamic jurist, who has guardianship over God’s people. Ayatollah Khomeini was the first to put this theory into practice when he established the Iranian theocracy and established the Grand Ayatollah in the image of the theoretical faqih.[i]As such, AAH is often called a Khomeinist organization and continues to look to Iran’s current Grand Ayatollah, Ayatollah Khamenei, for political and spiritual guidance. In line with its allegiance to Iran and the principles of the Iranian Revolution, AAH seeks to institute a Shi’a Islamic government in Iraq and establish Shariah Law throughout the country. In addition to looking to Iran for spiritual guidance, AAH also retains a close spiritual allegiance to Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most famous and revered clerics.[ii]

During the U.S. occupation of Iraq, AAH’s main goal was the expulsion of U.S. troops from Iraq and thus directed the majority of its attacks against U.S. forces in the region.[iii]  However, since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, AAH has rebranded itself from an anti-Western resistance militia to an Iraqi nationalist political organization.  Yet, despite attempting to portray itself as nationalist, AAH continues to promote Iranian interests in Iraq and pursue closer links between the two states.[iv]The group continues to work to establish a Shi’ite controlled state and the implementation of Shariah Law throughout Iraq. Currently the group also seeks to shore up the Assad regime in Syria and to turn back the advance of the Islamic State (IS) in both Syria and Iraq.[v]

 



[i]Jawad al-Tamimi. “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists.” Islamist Gate, 6 March 2014. Web. 20 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[ii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Jawad al-Tamimi. “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists.” Islamist Gate, 6 March 2014. Web. 20 July 2015; Visser, Reidar. “Religious Allegiances aming Pro-Iranian Special Groups in Iraq.” Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point, 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 3 August 2015.

[iii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iv]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Jawad al-Tamimi. “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists.” Islamist Gate, 6 March 2014. Web. 20 July 2015.

[v]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015; Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

 

Political Activities

Following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, AAH declared its intention to join the Iraqi political process—a transition that was overseen and facilitated personally by Maliki. In 2012, AAH began the process of rebranding itself from an Islamist resistance militia to a nationalist Shiite political party.[i]It established political offices in Baghdad, al-Khalis, Basra, Tal Afar, Hillah, and Najaf, sent political delegations to meet with tribal leaders in the Dhi Qar, Muthanna, and Maysan provinces, and began providing charitable services to Shiite communities.  As a result of these efforts the group has grown rapidly as a political party. In the 2014 Iraqi parliamentary elections, AAH’s political party, al-Sadiqoon, allied with Maliki’s Dawlat al-Qanoon coalition and won one seat in the Iraqi National Assembly.[ii]

In 2017, AAH also made significant political moves. In May of 2017, the Iraqi electoral commission approved the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Party, replacing the previous political wing of the group called al-Sadiqoon.[iii]The party proved to be adept at campaigning, with a lively and polished social media presence.[iv]The party also provided various public services such as the building of schools and the sponsoring of soccer games.[v]The party also provided humanitarian aid following the earthquakes in November.[vi]However, there were also incidents of violence on the campaign trail, with the AAH opening fire on students at Al-Qadisiyah after they threw their shoes at Qais al-Khazali.[vii]In January of 2018, the party joined a coalition called Fatah al Mubin (Manifest Victory) which consists primarily of PMF militias supported by Iran.[viii]The leader of the Fatah coalition is Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the Badr Organization. He has extensive ties to Iran and the Qods force, with Qassem Soleimani describing him as “a living martyr,” and his exile there for several years during the Sadaam Hussein regime.[ix]It appears as if though this party is an Iranian attempt to gain more influence in Iraq. Spokesmen for AAH indicated a clear desire to expel US forces during the run up to the election.[x]

AAH and the Fatah coalition ended up being quite successful during the election: out of the 329 seats in the Iraqi parliament, Fatah won the second most at 47 seats, behind Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon alliance (who won 54 seats). In particular, AAH won 14 of these seats.[xi]Despite previous bad blood between Sadr and Ameri, as well as the fact that Sadr ran on a platform that wanted to decrease all foreign influence and Ameri was staunchly pro-Iran, the Sairoon alliance and Fatah were able to form a coalition.[xii]Additionally, the Sairoon alliance later formed a coalition with the former Iraqi PM Abadi.[xiii]This three-way coalition has 143 seats, still short of the 165 seats required for a ruling bloc, and shorter still of a coalition that would include Sunni Arab or Kurdish politicians.[xiv]It is unclear whether these seat counts will stay pending a nationwide manual recount following a series of irregularities, including the arson of several ballots, but they are not expected to change much.[xv]

AAH has also expanded its political influence into Lebanon where it established a political office and sent delegations to meet with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Lebanese government officials in 2011.[xvi]

 



[i]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[ii]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.  

[iii]"Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq Shiite Militia Founds Political Party." Baghdad Post. May 24, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/story/11011/Asa-ib-Ahl-al-Haq-Shiite-mi....

[iv]Al-Khazali, Qais. "Qais Al-Khazali." Twitter. March 2013. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://twitter.com/qais_alkhazali?lang=en;Al-Khazali, Qais. "Qais Al-Khazali." Instagram. March 2016. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.instagram.com/qais.alkazali/; “Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq." Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.ahlualhaq.com/

[v]Ezzeddine, Nancy, and Erwin Van Ween. "Power in Perspective: CRU Policy Brief Four Key Insights into Iraq’s Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi." Clingendael. June 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.clingendael.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/PB_Power_in_pers....

[vi]Ghafuri, Lawk. "Asaib Ahl Al-Haq Are in #Derbandikhan to Respond to the Victims of #Earthquake via Humanitarian Aids. The Shi’ite Militia Are Burning and Destroying Kurdish Houses and Killing Kurds in #Kirkuk, #Khurmatu and Other Areas, While in Darbandikhan Showing Themselves as Angels. #KRG." Twitter. November 16, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://twitter.com/lawkghafuri/status/931284256655052806.

[vii]"Khazali Militia Opens Fire on Students at University of Al-Qadisiyah." Baghdad Post. April 10, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/story/9181/Khazali-militia-opens-fire-o....

[viii]Toumaj, Amir, and Romany Shaker. "Iranian-backed Iraqi Militias Form Coalition Ahead of Parliamentary Elections." Long War Journal, January 25, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/01/iranian-backed-iraqi-mil....

[ix]Toumaj, Amir, and Romany Shaker. "Iranian-backed Iraqi Militias Form Coalition Ahead of Parliamentary Elections." Long War Journal, January 25, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/01/iranian-backed-iraqi-militias-form-coalition-ahead-of-parliamentary-elections.php; "Iraq's Sadr Announces Political Alliance with Pro-Iranian Bloc." Al-Jazeera, June 13, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraq-sadr-announces-political-all....

[x]Majidyar, Ahmad. "Iran-backed Asaib Ahl Al-Haq: We’ll Form next Iraqi Government and Will Expel US Forces." Middle East Institute, February 27, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.mei.edu/content/io/iran-backed-asaib-ahl-al-haq-we-ll-form-ne....

[xi]Harris, Bryant. "Congress Targets Election Winners in Iraq." Al-Monitor, May 30, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/congress-target-winne....

[xii]"Iraq's Sadr Announces Political Alliance with Pro-Iranian Bloc." Al-Jazeera, June 13, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraq-sadr-announces-political-all....

[xiii]"Iraqi PM Al-Abadi and Shia Leader Al-Sadr Announce Alliance." Al-Jazeera, June 23, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraqi-pm-al-abadi-shia-leader-al-....

[xiv]"Iraqi PM Al-Abadi and Shia Leader Al-Sadr Announce Alliance." Al-Jazeera, June 23, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraqi-pm-al-abadi-shia-leader-al-....

[xv]"Iraqi PM Al-Abadi and Shia Leader Al-Sadr Announce Alliance." Al-Jazeera, June 23, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraqi-pm-al-abadi-shia-leader-al-....

[xvi]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

 

Targets and Tactics

During the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq primarily targeted American troops and their Iraqi allies, claiming responsibility for over 6,000 attacks on American soldiers between 2006 and 2011. The group was known for its use of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) and improvised rocketed-assisted mortars (IRAMs) against U.S. troops and for its high-profile kidnappings and executions of westerner nationals and Iraqi citizens working for western corporations. Yet, the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in 2013 brought AAH and the United States a common enemy. Although AAH was open to limited cooperation with the U.S., it released a statement in 2016 threatening to attack U.S. personnel in Iraq. The statement was released in response to the U.S.’s announcement the previous week that it was sending additional troops to fight IS in Iraq.[i]

Following the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, AAH ostensibly reoriented itself towards political participation.  Yet despite its pledged commitment to non-violence, the group refused to surrender its weapons to the Iraqi government and in 2012 used them to assassinate several Sadrist candidates for the 2013 elections.[ii]Shortly thereafter, in 2013, AAH was accused not only of standing in for the police force in Anbar on Maliki’s orders but also of conducting purges of anti-Maliki Sunni tribesman in Iraq’s southern provinces in order to assure Maliki a Shiite majority in those governorates.[iii]These claims were corroborated by a report conducted by Human Rights Watch in July 2014 that accused AAH of killing 109 Sunni men between March and July 2014 in the towns surrounding Baghdad.[iv]

In 2017, despite maintaining an active presence as a militant organization, AAH has also gained much political capital becoming a member of the Fatah coalition[v]and gaining 14 seats.[vi]AAH is expected to become a part of the ruling coalition of Iraq.[vii]For more, see the Political Activities section of this profile.

AAH has also fought in Syria alongside Hezbollah and the Assad government since 2011 and with the Iraqi government against the Islamic State (IS) since 2014.[viii]

 

 



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015; “Iran-Backed Militia Demands Withdrawal of U.S. Force in Iraq.” Asharq Al-Awsat, 21 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[ii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iii]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[iv]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[v]Toumaj, Amir, and Romany Shaker. "Iranian-backed Iraqi Militias Form Coalition Ahead of Parliamentary Elections." Long War Journal, January 25, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/01/iranian-backed-iraqi-mil....

[vi]Harris, Bryant. "Congress Targets Election Winners in Iraq." Al-Monitor, May 30, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/congress-target-winne....

[vii]"Iraq's Sadr Announces Political Alliance with Pro-Iranian Bloc." Al-Jazeera, June 13, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraq-sadr-announces-political-all....

[viii]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015; Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

 

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing, but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing, but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

July-August 2006: Elements of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq fought alongside Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon-Israeli War. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[i]

October 10, 2006: AAH used mortars to attack American Forward Operating Base Falcon. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[ii]

May 6, 2006: AAH shot down a British Lynx helicopter in Basra. (5 Killed, unknown wounded)[iii]

January 20, 2007: AAH militants attacked and captured the Karbala Provincial Headquarters, killing five American soldiers in the process. The Khazali brothers and Ali Musa Daqduq, who had helped to plan and lead the attack, were captured by U.S. forces shortly after. (5 dead, unknown wounded)[iv]

May 29, 2007: AAH forces attacked the Iraqi Finance Ministry, capturing a British contractor named Peter Moore and his four bodyguards.  AAH released Moore in December 2009 in exchange for the Iraqi Government’s release of Qais al-Khazali.  However, by the time that Moore was released, AAH had killed his four bodyguards. (4 killed, unknown wounded)[v]

February 2010: AAH captured U.S. Department of Defense contractor Issa T. Salomi.  Salomi was released in March 2010 in return for the release of four of their fighters who were held by the Iraqi government. (0 Killed, 0 Wounded)[vi]

November 2011: AAH was responsible for a roadside bomb that killed the last American to die before the U.S. withdrawal in November 2011. (1 killed, unknown wounded)[vii]

August 10, 2012: AAH forces captured a Sunni Mosque in the Al-Amin al-Thaniyah district of Baghdad, subsequently converting it to a Shiite mosque. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[viii]

September 2012: AAH was the main force fighting against IS in the city of Amerli. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[ix]

March-April 2014: According to a Human Rights Watch report, AAH killed 109 Sunni men in the villages surrounding Baghdad between March and April 2014. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[x]

April 17, 2015: AAH killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri in mountains between Kirkuk and Tikrit.  Douri was Saddam Hussein’s second in command and subsequently the leader of the Jaysh al-Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandia (JRTN). (1+ Killed, Unknown wounded)[xi]

October 2017: AAH participated in the offensive on Kirkuk. It is suspected that Iran played a heavy role in the seizure of the territory. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[xii]

November 2017: AAH participated in the offensive on Al-Qa’im. They were spotted using what appears to be an Iranian T-52. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[xiii]

November 2017: AAH participated in the offensive on Abu Kamal. This town is very strategically significant and enables Iran to set up a supply route from Iran to Lebanon, facilitating the furnishing of ordinance to Hezbollah. (Unknown killed, Unknown wounded)[xiv]



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[ii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iii]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iv]Mamouri, Ali. “The Rise of ‘Cleric Militias’ in Iraq.” Al-Monitor (trans. T. Huffman), 23 July 2013. Web. 30 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[v]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; “Hostage Peter Moore ‘surprised’ by Asaib Ahl al-Haq apology.” BBC News, 8 July 2014. Web. July 31 2015; Rayner, Gordon. “Peter Moore: US ‘arranged secret prisoner exchange.’” The Telegraph, 1 Jan 2010. Web. 31 July 2015.

[vi]Watson, Julia. “Issa Salomi, U.S. Contractor, Recounts Iraq Kidnapping.” The Huffington Post, 25 May 2011.  Web. 30 July 2015.

[vii]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[viii] "عصائب اهل الحق تستولي على مساجد النواصب". Iraq News Network, 10 August 2012. Web. 12 August 2012.

[ix]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[x]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[xi]Sahran, Amre. “Confirmed: Izzat al-Douri, former Saddam Hussein deputy, Killed by Asa’ib al-Haq forces.” Iraqi News, 19 April 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.

[xii]Cafarella, Jennifer. "Iran's Role in the Kirkuk Operation in Iran." Institute for the Study of War. November 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran’s-role-kirkuk-operation-iraq.

[xiii]"PMU Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq Participating in Al-Qa'im Offensive." ISIS Live Map. December 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://isis.liveuamap.com/en/2017/3-november-pmu-asaib-ahl-alhaq-partic....

[xiv]Majidyar, Ahmad. "Syrian, Iranian-Led Forces Capture Abu Kamal, Threaten to Confront U.S. and S.D.F." Middle East Institute. November 8, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.mei.edu/content/article/io/syria-iranian-led-forces-capture-abu-kamal-threaten-confront-us-and-sdf; "The Syrian Civil War - Update 06 12 2017." Trumppendienst, December 7, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.truppendienst.com/themen/beitraege/artikel/der-syrische-buer....

 

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

    Designated/ Listed
  • Designated/ Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/ Listed

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq has never been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, or UN.  Interestingly, the other main Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah, has been listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. even though its activities and goals are almost identical to AAH’s. As of July 2, 2018, there is currently a bill in the U.S. Senate that would designate the AAH as a terrorist organization.[i]



[i]Harris, Bryant. "Congress Targets Election Winners in Iraq." Al-Monitor, May 30, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/congress-target-winne....

 

Community Relations

While before 2011 AAH does not appear to have had a significant relationship with the Iraqi Shiite community, the group has built widespread support among Shiite Iraqis since entering the political process in 2011.[i]The group has not only established political offices across Iraq but has also sent political delegations to tribal leaders. AAH has also begun providing social services to the southern Iraqi Shiite tribes, most notably establishing a network of religious schools across the region as well as sponsoring public entertainment events such as soccer games.[ii]In November 2017, AAH provided humanitarian assistance following an earthquake.[iii]

AAH appears to have a tenuous relationship with members of the Sunni community in Iraq. They repeatedly raided the houses of Sunni communities in Kirkuk and have been accused of many war crimes.[iv]



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[ii]Jawad al-Tamimi. “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists.” Islamist Gate, 6 March 2014. Web. 20 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Cochrane, Marisa. “Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network.” Institute for the Study of War, 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 July 2015; Al-Jawoshy, Omar. “ISIS Suicide Bomber in Iraq Kills Dozens at Soccer Game.” New York Times, 25 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[iii]Ghafuri, Lawk. "Asaib Ahl Al-Haq Are in #Derbandikhan to Respond to the Victims of #Earthquake via Humanitarian Aids. The Shi’ite Militia Are Burning and Destroying Kurdish Houses and Killing Kurds in #Kirkuk, #Khurmatu and Other Areas, While in Darbandikhan Showing Themselves as Angels. #KRG." Twitter. November 16, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018.

[iv]"IMIS’ Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq Raids Houses of Sunni Kurds in Kirkuk." Baghdad Post. October 18, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/story/18432/IMIS-Asa-ib-Ahl-al-Haq-raids-houses-of-Sunni-Kurds-in-Kirkuk; "Iraq: End Irresponsible Arms Transfers Fuelling Militia War Crimes." Amnesty International, January 5, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.amnesty.nl/actueel/iraq-end-irresponsible-arms-transfers-fue....

 

Relationships with Other Groups

AAH is one of the Iranian-backed Special Groups, the U.S. Army’s name for the Iranian-sponsored Shiite militias fighting in Iraq, and as such has always had good relations with other Iranian-sponsored Shiite militias, both Iraqi and foreign.  In particular, AAH has often cooperated with Kata’ib Hezbollah, the second largest of the Special Groups after AAH. In 2013, the two groups co-founded Hakarat Hizb Allah al-Nujaba, a front group located in Syria to which the two groups send their fighters to fight alongside the Assad regime and Hezbollah.[i]AAH has also always maintained close relations with Hezbollah. Hezbollah operatives were responsible for training many of AAH’s initial recruits and Hezbollah leader Ali Mussa Daqduq has often served as a liaison between the Iranian government and AAH.  Furthermore, members of AAH fought along side Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon-Israel War and in support of the Assad regime in Syria starting in 2011.[ii]During a visit to the Israeli-Lebanon border, Khazali stated that “We declare our full readiness to stand united with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli occupation.”[iii]An AAH spokesperson later clarified that “It’s a clear message to the Israeli entity, as well as solidarity with the Lebanese people if the Israeli entity attacks them.”[iv]

AAH has had a tense relationship with Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and his Sadrist supporters since splitting from the Mahdi Army in 2006. While Khazali was being imprisoned by the U.S. in 2008, Sadr called for AAH to rejoin the Mahdi Army.  Akram al-Kabi, who was leading AAH in Khazali’s absence, refused Sadr’s offer. Violent clashes subsequently broke out between former Mahdi Army members—Sadr had signed a truce with the U.S. and disbanded the group in 2008—and AAH militants in and around Basra.[v]Relations did not improve between the two groups when AAH entered the Iraqi political process in 2011.  The two groups competed for the support of the Iraqi Shiite community, each trying to paint itself as the heir to Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr’s legacy.  Each had claim to the title as both Khazali and Muqtada al-Sadr has been Sadiq al-Sadr’s pupils.  This competition led AAH to launch an assassination campaign against Sadrist political leaders in 2012 in an attempt to weaken the Sadrist’s standing prior to the 2013 regional elections.  Although both groups are currently fighting the Islamic State (IS), tensions have not eased between the groups.  For instance, in 2014 Sadr wrote off AAH as little more than a Maliki-sponsored militia and accused it of carrying out purges of anti-Maliki Sunni tribesmen in southern Iraq. AAH responded by attacking Sadrists.[vi]However, despite this past bad blood, and the fact that Sadr ran on a platform that wanted to decrease all foreign influence and Ameri was staunchly pro-Iran, the Sairoon alliance and Fatah were able to form a coalition following the results of 2018 Iraqi Parliamentary elections.[vii]

Since the rise of IS in 2013, AAH has joined the Iraqi government’s fight against the Islamic State. As the most powerful pro-Maliki militia in Iraq, AAH has been deployed to some of the most contested areas in Iraq in the battle against IS. For instance, the group led the Shiite militias in the battle for Amerli in 2013-2014 and in Samarra in 2015-2016.[viii]In retaliation, IS carried out a suicide attack at a soccer match sponsored by AAH in a town south of Baghdad in March 2016. 31 people were killed, among whom at least five were AAH members.[ix]

The AAH’s operations in the Iraqi theatre, although it has independent command, are primarily conducted under the framework of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an alliance of Shia militant groups organized in 2014. The largest groups in the PMF, in decreasing order of size, are Kata’ib Hezbollah(30000),[x]the Badr Organization (10000-15000),[xi]and the AAH (10000).[xii]As part of the PMF, AAH  played an instrumental role in retaking ISIS territory, but it is also attacked as a human rights abuser and being a source of Iranian influence. The PMF is an important source of influence and recruitment for the AAH—through it, the AAH gained many recruits amongst the Shia tribesman of Iraq.[xiii] The PMF’s enjoy widespread support among the Iraqi people and receive financial and military support from both Iran and Iraq. The PMF’s remain partially integrated in the Iraqi state system.[xiv]

There are speculated tensions between AAH and the Jaysh al-Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandia (JRTN), as indicated by AAH’s claimed assassination of Izzat Ibrihim al-Douri, Saddam Hussein’s former second in command and the leader of the JRTN, on April 17, 2015.  Although initial claims of Douri’s assassination could not be corroborated, the Iraqi government has recently confirmed Douri’s death. [xv]



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[ii]Chulov, Martin. “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria.” The Guardian. 12 March 2014. Web. 30 July 2015; Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iii]"Lebanese PM Slams Visit by Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Chief to Israeli Border." The Times of Israel. December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-pm-slams-iran-backed-iraqi-militi....

[iv]"Lebanese PM Slams Visit by Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Chief to Israeli Border." The Times of Israel. December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-pm-slams-iran-backed-iraqi-militi....

[v]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015.

[vi]Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

[vii]"Iraq's Sadr Announces Political Alliance with Pro-Iranian Bloc." Al-Jazeera, June 13, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iraq-sadr-announces-political-all....

[viii]Kirkpatrick, David. “Shiite Militias Pose Challenge for U.S. in Iraq.” 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.  

[ix]Al-Jawoshy, Omar. “ISIS Suicide Bomber in Iraq Kills Dozens at Soccer Game.” New York Times, 25 March 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

[x]Ryan, Missy, and Loveday Morris. "The U.S. and Iran Are Aligned in Iraq against the Islamic State — for Now." Washington Post, December 27, 2014. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-us-and-iran-are-aligned-in-iraq-against-the-islamic-state--for-now/2014/12/27/353a748c-8d0d-11e4-a085-34e9b9f09a58_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.75cfe17381d3; Ahronheim, Anna. "COMMANDER OF IRANIAN-BACKED IRAQI MILITIA SEEN ON LEBANESE-ISRAELI BORDER." Jersualem Post, December 9, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018.

[xi]George, Susannah. "Breaking Badr." Foreign Policy, November 6, 2014. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/breaking-badr/.

[xii]Hilburn, Matthew. "One-time US Prisoner Now Key in Battling IS." Voice of America, March 15, 2015. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.voanews.com/a/qais-khazali-onetime-us-prisoner-now-key-in-ba....

[xiii]Mansour, Renad, and Faleh A. Jabar. "The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq's Future." Carnegie Endowment. April 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018. http://carnegieendowment.org/files/CMEC_63_Mansour_PMF_Final_Web.pdf; Ezzeddine, Nancy, and Erwin Van Ween. "Power in Perspective: CRU Policy Brief Four Key Insights into Iraq’s Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi." Clingendael. June 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018. https://www.clingendael.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/PB_Power_in_pers....

[xiv]Mansour, Renad, and Faleh A. Jabar. "The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq's Future." Carnegie Endowment. April 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018; Ezzeddine, Nancy, and Erwin Van Ween. "Power in Perspective: CRU Policy Brief Four Key Insights into Iraq’s Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi." Clingendael. June 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018.

[xv]Sahran, Amre. “Confirmed: Izzat al-Douri, former Saddam Hussein deputy, Killed by Asa’ib al-Haq forces.” Iraqi News, 19 April 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.

 

State Sponsors and External Influences

AAH has maintained close ties with Iran since its inception in 2006 and is often referred to as its proxy organization in Iraq. Iran not only provides the group with significant financial aid and training resources, but also influences the group’s goals and activities. Although Qais al-Khazali is the leader of AAH and controls the group’s day-to-day activities, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, supervises the group and is thought to have the ultimate say in the group’s targets, attacks, and overall strategy.[i]



[i]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Heras, Nicholas. “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Expands Operations to Syria.” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor 12(10), 15 May 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

 

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.

Evolving Militant Interactions

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Last updated July 2018