Iran backs three Shia terror groups in Iraq: General Odierno

The top US general in Iraq has identified the three main Shia terror groups in Iraq that are backed by Iran.

General Ray Odierno said Iran continues to back the League of the Righteous (or Asaib al Haq), the Mahdi Army spin-off Promise Day Brigade, and the Hezbollah Brigades (or Kataib Hezbollah).

“The Iranians… continue to fund, train and provide weapons and ammunition to Shiite extremist groups,” Odierno told reporters in Baghdad according to AFP. Qods Force, the special operations branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has “gone to a more sophisticated program with a smaller set of extremists” by narrowing down the number of Shia terror groups it supports.

Odierno acknowledged the debate over whether Iranian support for the three main Shia terror groups in Iraq includes backing by the highest levels of Iran’s government.

“It’s very difficult to say if the extremist groups are directly connected to the Iranian government,” Odierno said. “But we do know that many of them live in Iran, many of them get trained in Iran, and many of them get weapons from Iran.”

The IRGC reports directly to the top of Iran’s government: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The IRGC is tasked with defending the Islamic Revolution inside Iran while exporting the radical ideology to neighboring countries and worldwide.

Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army and its Promise Day Brigade, lives in Qom in Iran.

The League of the Righteous, the Promise Day Brigade, and the Hezbollah Brigades carry out attacks against US and Iraqi forces as well as against Iraqi leaders who threaten Iran’s agenda in Iraq. These groups film their attacks against US forces and post them on the Internet.

General Odierno’s statements yesterday on Iranian support of Shia terror groups in Iraq marks the second time in eight days that he has pointed the finger at Iraq’s neighbor. On July 13 Odierno said fighters and leaders from Hezbollah Brigades have been training in Iran and are now returning to Iraq to step up attacks.

For more information on Iran’s support of Shia terror groups in Iraq, see Iranian-backed Shia terror group remains a threat in Iraq: General Odierno.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Graham says:

    So….I can see how these are enemy organizations, but “terrorists”? What acts of terror have been attributed to them? Car bombing of civilian targets? Sectarian killings of Sunnis, Christians ETC? Assassination? The article isn’t clear.
    “General Ray Odierno said Iran continues to back the League of the Righteous (or Asaib al Haq), the Mahdi Army spin-off Promised Day Brigade, and the Hezbollah Brigades (or Kataib Hezbollah).”
    So Iran isn’t backing the Mahdi Army ITSELF anymore, just that one spin-off?

  • madashell59 says:

    So what else is new? And the line about whether or not a group has direct ties to the Iranian government. Come on! This is the same statement I kept hearing about Saddam Hussein and Usama Bin Laden. No direct ties however Saddam’s head of intelligence was meeting the leaders of several terrorist groups frequently but there we no direct ties to Saddam.
    That is like saying some one hires a hit man through a middle man and you cannot arrest him on murder charges because there is no direct ties.
    Iran is the head of the beast and until we cut it off this will truely be a long war.
    Maybe the US strategy is to build up an alliance in Iraq, Afganistan, and Pakistan and then utilize that influence and strength to topple Iran.

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    If they can ID these people hopefully they can roll them up, kill them. Wat bothers me is why we let the Iranians off the hook. They have really pushed the US, so can they take out key people on Irans’ side of the border? I would hope they do. Iran will destabilize Iraq and one day put thier “man” in. Sadr should have been history long ago. Lost oppurtunities…

  • Erik says:

    @Graham: The Mahdi Army (JAM) has been a non-player, militarily, since Sadr issued the cease-fire order 3 years ago. The players that wanted to keep taking pot-shots at CF moved over to either the PDBs or AAH.
    And do a little searching around this site and you will find dozens of articles by Bill that get down to the level of which group actually conducted the attack.

  • John May says:

    For God Sake,
    Why don’t we go to the UN (embarrased to even say it) and state that we will now hold Iran responsible from now on. Give fair warning that we will hit targets heading to cross the border and even initiate clandestine ops to unsettle their political base. We are all thinking this. Why aren’t we doing it. BO is making a laughing stock of the US.
    God Bless America,
    John May

  • sas says:

    Blame the CIA for Sadr being amongst the living. They protected him at the beginning and let his guys take out his moderate competition.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    We need to understand that this is increasingly an issue that the Iraqi government and their security professionals need to manage. Iraq is going to need to execute it’s foreign policy as an internally secure, sovereign state. All we could ever do was give them that opportunity. It may be 10 years before we know how they did with it.


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