Hidden elements of the “Hezbollah Brigades” in Iraq … the “Secret...

Hidden elements of the “Hezbollah Brigades” in Iraq … the “Secret...
Hidden elements of the “Hezbollah Brigades” in Iraq … the “Secret...
Exciting details covered in a detailed article published on the “War on the Rock” website that sheds light on the organizational structure of the Kataib Hezbollah militia in Iraq, how it was formed by Iran, the extent of its strength and how to limit its influence, in addition to revealing the truth about the names given to prominent militia leaders Such as “Al-Khal, Al-Shayeb, and Al-Muallem.”

According to the article, written by Hamdi Malik, a contributing writer for Al-Monitor and the BBC in Persian, “Kataib Hezbollah has become the most dangerous Iranian proxy in Iraq, as it has participated in countless activities to protect and expand Tehran’s influence in Iraq and the region. “.

In addition, this militia helped suppress an Iraqi nationalist protest movement against Iran, used Iraqi territory to launch attacks on a neighboring country, and openly intimidated and threatened Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi.

The author of the article, titled “The Growing Threat from Iran’s Preferred Proxy in Iraq,” notes that the influence of this group has expanded greatly in recent years, and has become the most reliable proxy for Iran to advance its ambitions in Iraq.

He believes that there are many Iranian-backed militias that repeatedly disobey the prime minister’s orders, but Kataib Hezbollah has been the most frequent one for this matter, which has eroded the authority of the Iraqi state, despite its formal subordination to the Office of the Commander in Chief as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Establishment of the “Secret Legion”

The writer says that at the height of Tehran’s campaign against American forces in Iraq in 2007, Qassem Soleimani reached the conclusion that there was a need to form a more flexible militia in order to inflict maximum damage on the American forces.

He continues that Soleimani concluded that two of the main militias affiliated with Iran in Iraq, the Badr Organization and the Mahdi Army, and their splinter groups, were not and will not be operations.

Therefore, the former commander of the Quds Force, who was killed in a US raid early this year, decided that he needed a new elite that was better trained and equipped, and that would be fully under Iran’s control to escalate against the US military, according to the author of the article.

Soleimani, with the help of a few Iraqi and Lebanese militia leaders (including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis) gathered five smaller militias to form Kataib Hezbollah, which the author calls the “Secret Corps.”

These militias were represented by the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade, the Karbala Brigades, the Zaid bin Ali Brigades, the Ali al-Akbar Brigades and the al-Sajjad Brigades, and they joined under one banner and received advanced Iranian weapons and extensive training from the leaders of the Lebanese Hezbollah, according to the article.

The writer says that since its inception, the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades has maintained close relations with the Lebanese Hezbollah and its leaders, most notably Imad Mughniyeh, who played a major role in forming the Iraqi militia.

Since then, Kataib Hezbollah has grown from a small elite group of a few hundred fighters to one of the most capable Iraqi militias, as it is estimated that it currently has a total of 10,000 fighters, most of them inside Iraq and some in Syria.

The activities of the Hezbollah Brigades are not limited to military and security operations, as the militant group runs media outlets, maintains cultural centers, and has established research centers.

The article touched on the influence of the Hezbollah Brigades within the Popular Mobilization Authority, where it received special treatment exploiting the position of one of its most prominent founders, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, when he was serving as deputy head of the crowd before he was killed with Soleimani.

After the death of Muhandis, the Hezbollah militia insisted that his position be filled by another commander in the Hezbollah Brigades, despite the opposition of various groups within the Popular Mobilization Forces, but the militia imposed “Abu Fadak al-Muhammadawi,” one of its senior leaders, to assume the position of Chief of Staff of the forces Acting popular crowd last February.

The Hezbollah Brigades also controls important directorates within the Popular Mobilization Forces, most notably the Security Directorate, which is rapidly developing and transforming into an influential internal affairs force with intelligence capabilities and has its own forces.

The writer notes that “the militia controls, in addition, the Missile Directorate within the Hashd Authority, and this is especially important, because Iran has sent ballistic missiles to Kataib Hezbollah and is working to transfer missile technology to the group, which is a privilege not granted to other pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.” .

To reinforce its plans without any government scrutiny, Kataib Hezbollah converted a strategic area south of Baghdad called Jurf al-Sakhar into a restricted area.

Until 2014, the area was inhabited by Sunni Arabs, but after its liberation from ISIS, Kataib Hezbollah prevented the residents from returning.

No other Iraqi force is allowed to enter Jurf al-Sakhr, and it is currently considered a haven for Kataib Hezbollah activities, including missile development, as no Iranian-backed militia has gone so far in violating state sovereignty as this militia does, according to the writer.

“Uncle, old man, and teacher”

Kataib Hezbollah has adopted a unique hierarchy to ensure maximum secrecy about its activities.

The writer says that former members of the Hezbollah Brigades told him that the armed group divides its fighters into two main classes. The first group members are called “bodies,” and they are the fighters who have been tested and gained the confidence of their leaders.

Members of the second category, which is made up of the majority of fighters, are called “numbers” and they are among those who see little information about KH’s activities and chain of command, to the extent that they sometimes do not even know the real names of their direct commanders, and instead only know their pseudonyms. .

Kataib Hezbollah also established a special internal system for its members, as the bodies have their own mentors called “teachers.”

Teachers or mentors are not just military leaders. Through their “jihad” activities, they are supposed to have acquired unique wisdom that they in turn give to the trainees, according to the article.

The other position that bears a pseudonym in the hierarchy of the Hezbollah Brigades is “the uncle,” and the author quotes sources within the PMF as saying that this pseudonym is reserved for a few high-ranking leaders, according to the author of the article.

The writer quotes others as saying that the only person who has this name is Abu Fadak, while the engineer is nicknamed “Al-Shayeb,” meaning the gray man.

The article considers that attracting young people to its cause is a priority for Kataib Hezbollah, as not only did they establish the “Imam Hussein Scouts” association to carry out various social and political activities and recruit loyal and trustworthy “bodies” in the future, but they also recruited young men to spy on US forces.

He adds that “Sabreen News”, a news channel on the Telegram platform of Kataeb Hezbollah, had asked Iraqis to join the “shadow cell” of the Hezbollah Brigade.

The letter, published on August 21 and later removed, asked Iraqis to send pictures, videos, or information about all US troop movements, and this was the mission of the “shadow cell”.

Kataib Hezbollah is working hard to shape public opinion that serves its interests, and to achieve this goal, it has established a variety of news outlets.

“Cultural centers”

The brigades have satellite channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, channels and social media accounts.

The militant group has also established several cultural centers, mainly in Baghdad, but also in predominantly Shiite cities in the south, for women, university students, academics, and families of Kataib Hezbollah fighters who lost their lives in the fighting.

The author says that promoting the idea of ​​velayat al-Faqih is one of the main areas that the institutions associated with the Hezbollah Brigades focus on.

“The problem with the Hezbollah Brigades is that the senior Shiite religious authorities in Najaf do not believe in this doctrine, as the supreme authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, clearly expressed his opposition to a political system ruled by clerics.”

The writer continues, “Kataib Hezbollah and similar groups supported by Iran have realized that this is a major problem to advance Iran’s plans in Iraq and abroad.” Therefore, their institutions are working to spread the idea of ​​velayat-e faqih.

The author of the article continues, “One of the main differences between the ideology of the Wilayat al-Faqih and the Najaf school is that the first has global ambitions, while the Iraqi militias loyal to Iran, including the Hezbollah Brigades, rushed to defend the Bashar al-Assad regime under the leadership of the Quds Force after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2015. 2011 ”.

On the other hand, he adds, “Sistani opposed sending fighters to Syria to fight alongside the Assad regime.”

In order to preserve their future in Iraq and expand their influence in the region, Kataib Hezbollah and similar groups need to deploy Wilayat al-Faqih to secure the religious legitimacy of their aspirations.

In addition to its presence in Syria, Kataib Hezbollah has shown its willingness to play a greater role in Iran’s regional adventures, “as it is suspected of being behind the attack that targeted Saudi oil facilities in May last year, and militia leaders openly call for terrorist attacks,” inside Saudi.

Most of the pro-Iranian groups in Iraq avoid adopting such a strategy, for example the Badr Organization led by Hadi al-Amiri.

“It is difficult for a group with a heavy presence in the political process to risk its interests by calling for attacks on foreign countries, but a group like Kataib Hezbollah has the ability to act as a banned radical militia, a situation that Iran can exploit when it comes under pressure,” he said. Article author.

Ending influence

The writer says, “It seems that the reason behind the failure of the Iraqi prime minister to take decisive measures against Kataib Hezbollah is the fear of further destabilization of the country.”

The author of the article expects that the country may turn to chaos “at this pace and the path that Kataib Hezbollah is following.”

And many Iraqi Shiite politicians believe that if the government fails to bring paramilitary groups under the control of the Iraqi state, the country will witness another civil war, this time between the Shiites themselves.

In order to avoid this grim scenario, the government needs to start limiting the influence of Kataib Hezbollah in the PMF.

The pro-Sistani units clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with the Iranian hegemony within the PMF, and this domination is mainly facilitated by Kataib Hezbollah.

These units announced their defection from the popular crowd and their willingness to facilitate further defections, and this is what the pro-Iranian militias fear the most.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi needs to capitalize on the threat of increasing defections to diversify the hierarchy of leadership of the PMF by appointing more patriotic leaders, the article suggests.

Likewise, according to the writer, Al-Kazemi should limit the economic activities of Kataib Hezbollah, which is working to increase and diversify its sources of revenue by penetrating various economic sectors, such as construction, agriculture and oil, and by engaging in illegal cross-border trade with Syria, extortion and the exploitation of the notorious currency auction. To the central bank.

Al-Kazemi has taken some steps to curb corruption at the border crossings to deprive groups like Kataib Hezbollah of their illegal revenues, but this step has not achieved much yet, according to the writer.

And he adds that “depriving the Hezbollah Brigades of their sanctuaries is also a key to reducing the group’s grip on the country, as it is keen to prevent the Iraqi government from reaching areas in Baghdad, Jurf al-Sakhr and the Iraqi-Syrian border.

According to the author, “This must end.” Otherwise, Kataib Hezbollah will be able to use these areas to continue building a parallel force that could significantly challenge the Iraqi security forces and drag Iraq into more destructive regional conflicts.

It is likely that KH will resist these moves and resort to violence in order to protect their interests, but if it is done carefully and discussed with all the major players, the damage can be mitigated.

Al-Kazemi needs to consult not only with Sunni and Kurdish partners and the international coalition against ISIS, but more importantly the Shiite factions, including those loyal to Sistani.

A host of Shiite political forces and paramilitary groups are likely to support the government in its efforts to extend its authority, especially if it is implemented step by step, and started by peaceful means.

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