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Asaib al Haq (AAH) League of the Righteous

The "Asaib al Haq" criminal ring is a Shiite group that broke away from Muqtada al-Sadr's militia. Iranian-backed Shia militias Asaib Al-Haq (AHH), Kataib Hezbollah (KH), and Muqtada al Sadrs Promised Day Brigade (PDB) targeted U.S. interests and retain the capability to do so. The threat of kidnapping, rocket attacks, improvised explosive devices, and small arms fire against official and private U.S. interests remains high and is sometimes subject to the influence of domestic, political, regional, and international developments.

As-Saib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) is an Iraqi paramilitary group founded in 2006. Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (Nujaba) is an affiliated faction of AAH and the United States-designated foreign terrorist organization Kataib Hizballah that was formed in 2013. AAH and Nujaba are provided training, funding, and arms by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), IRGC-Quds Force, and mentored by Lebanese Hizballah.

Asa'ib Ahl al-Haqq is an Iraqi Shia militia group that split from Jaish al-Mahdi in 2006. Created by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in cooperation with Lebanese Hizballah, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq began life as a splinter from Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. It was involved in numerous attacks against US forces until their final withdrawal in 2011, when it announced its intention to join the political process. It operates various political offices across the country but also retains an armed capability and is suspected of involvement in various IED [Improvised Explosive Device] attacks and targeted killings against the Sunni community. It has received training from the Lebanese Hizbullah and from the Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Quds Force (IRGC-QF), and effectively represents an Iranian militant proxy within Iraq.

AAH leader, Qais Khazali, pledged allegiance to Irans Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Ayatollah Kazem Hueein Haeri, the group's spiritual leader, is reported to be a Khomeinist scholar of Iraqi origin living in Iran.

AAH conducted numerous attacks against the United States and coalition forces in Iraq between its inception in 2006 and the United States withdrawal in December 2011. This includes the January 20, 2007, attack on the Karbala Provincial Headquarters that resulted in the killing of CPT Brian S. Freeman, 1LT Jacob N. Fritz, SPC Jonathan B. Chism, PFC Shawn P. Falter, and PFC Jonathon M. Millicanfour of whom were abducted and later executed.

While Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) remained Iraqs most dangerous enemy, by 2011 Shia extremist groups continue to be a serious threat. Groups such as Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib al-Haq, and the Promised Day Brigade have indicated their intention to increase violence against U.S. forces and they continue in their attempts to do just that.

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's anti-U.S. rhetoric still inspired followers, but Iraqi security officials said in June 2011 that Mahdi Army splinter groups had too much to lose by returning to sectarian violence. With 39 seats in the 325-member parliament, Mahdi Army veterans may be much less keen to return to arms, even if Sadr callsedon them to do so. "Despite his huge number of supporters, if Moqtada decided to fight now, only a few would fight," said Abu Sadiq, a senior Mahdi Army leader in Sadr City. Additionally, "the danger that Moqtada faces is from his leaders who are competing with each other for posts, wealth and positions," Abu Moqtada, a former Mahdi fighter, said. The biggest splinter group, Asaib al-Haq, was already challenging Sadrs authority and legitimacy.

By late 2011 the inability/unwillingness of Iraqs leadership to address Iraqs basic political divisions was beginning to re-ignite Iraqs smoldering security problems. Prime Minister Malikis dependence on the Sadrists and Iran (who were the keys to his retaining office) has meant that violent Shiite groups such as Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, Khitaib Hizballah and the Promise Day Brigades of Muqtada as-Sadrs own Jaysh al-Mahdi, had been able to operate with relative impunity.

Among Iraqis, by 2012 there was a growing fear that as Iran becomes further isolated, it would use the relationships and terrorist groups (most prominently Asaib al-Haq (AAH)) it had cultivated in Iraq to drive a wedge deeper into the Sunni-Shia relationship, to embarrass Iraq in the eyes of its nascent western allies, and to scare off foreign investors. Iran's proxies could also attack U.S. activities and further reduce their effectiveness.

In September 2013, the group threatened to attack US interests if the US struck Syria. It claimed via social media sites and through their funeral ceremonies that their units in Syria operate under the name of Liwa' Kafeel Zaynab (Sponsors of Zaynab Brigade). In October 2013, the group moved from recruiting Shi'a volunteers via word of mouth and local recruiters to a phone and social network-based approach. It is unknown how many fighters AHH has contributed. Though, it has been reported that its combatants are well trained and exhibit superior command skills when compared to their Syrian allies.

AAH and Nujaba deployed forces to Syria to fight on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime, including participating in the 2016 siege of Aleppo where the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights alleges pro-government Iraqi militia groups executed dozens of civilians. Tehrans main regional proxies which believe in, promote, and project Irans Islamic Revolutionary ideology are the main contributors of Shia fighters through Syria. The proxy groups sending combatants include Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqs Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Organization, Kataib Hezbollah, and smaller Iranian backed splinters from Iraqi Shia radical leader, Muqtada al-Sadr.

The Popular Mobilization Forces were created in 2014 as an umbrella for militias fighting ISIS. One of the justifications for according official status to the PMFs 140,000 fighters including the Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and other powerful militias supported by Iran was to improve discipline and accountability. It has rather consolidated their power and enabled the constituent militias to detain and assassinate critics with impunity.

In 2015, Human Rights Watch alleged AAH participated in forced evictions, kidnappings, and extrajudicial killings of Sunni and Kurdish civilians in areas liberated from the Islamic State.

Nujaba is led by Akram al-Kabi, who was designated by the Department of the Treasury under Executive Order 13438 for threatening the peace and stability of Iraq. According to the United States Government, Kabi participated in multiple mortar and rocket attacks on the International Zone, or Green Zone, in Baghdad in early 2008. Kabi and other Nujaba commanders have claimed they follow orders from Irans Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and declared in March 2016 support for Lebanese Hizballah.

In 2017, a Nujaba spokesman declared that it had formed a unit tasked to liberate the Golan Heights from Israeli control and reports indicate the group is playing a key role in securing a land route between Iran and Lebanon to provide military aid to Lebanese Hezbollah.

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Page last modified: 24-03-2019 19:54:01 ZULU