Iraqi Prime Minister photographed with SDGT Abu Mahdi al Muhandis

Abadi-Maliki-Muhandis

Left to right: Prime Minister Abadi, former Prime Minister Maliki, and Popular Mobilization Force commander Abu Mahdi al Muhandis.

Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi, who has been held up by Western officials as a moderating force in Iraqi politics, was photographed standing with Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as a specially designated global terrorist in July 2009 and was described as “an advisor to” Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Abadi and Muhandis, as well as former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, were photographed together at a ceremony that celebrated the one year anniversary of the fatwa, or religious edict, that called for Shiites to take up arms against the Islamic State. The fatwa, which was issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani, led to the formation of the Popular Mobilization Committee in the summer of 2014.

The Popular Mobilization Committee is directed by Muhandis, who is closely tied to Iran and Soleimani. The paramilitary organization is dominated by Shiite militias such as Hezbollah Brigades, Asaib al Haq (the League of the Righteous), Saraya al Salam (Muqtada al Sadr’s Peace Brigades), Harakat Nujaba, Saraya Khorasani (Khorasan Brigades), the Imam Ali Brigades, and the Badr Organization. Hezbollah Brigades is listed by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organization while top leaders of Asaib al Haq, the Imam Ali Brigade, and Harakat Nujaba are listed as Specially Designated Global terrorists. All of these groups remain hostile towards the US. Two of them, Harakat Nujaba and Saraya al Salam, have threatened to attack US interests as recently as this spring.

The Iraqi government has increasingly relied on the Popular Mobilization Committee to lead the fight against the Islamic State as the Iraqi military and security services have proven incapable.

Leading Iraqi political and religious figures such as Sistani have been reduced to cozying up to what John Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL, or the Islamic State, described as the “extremist elements.” [See Threat Matrix reports, Sistani representatives laud Imam Ali Brigades commander, and US support for Iranian-backed Shiite militias ‘should not alarm us,’ General Allen says.]

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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4 Comments

  • mike merlo says:

    well at least now I know what ‘holding a hand basket in hell’ looks like. I suspect SPEGC John Allen is off in a corner twiddling his thumbs awaiting instructions from Valerie ‘Rasputin’ Jarrett. Over the next few weeks I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘salt of the earth’ Shia from Iraq & Iran to start publicly protesting about their sons getting killed, maimed, tortured, etc., & the Government/Military hierarchies of both Iraq & Iran failure(s) to destroy ISIS/ISIL

  • Oberron says:

    Just how much lower can Obama go?

    Oh found out why the Peshmerga are panicking:

    //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Syrian,_Iraqi,_and_Lebanese_insurgencies_detailed_map

    Look at the Kirkuk Area. IS took 16 settlements and an Airport from ISF/Militias and Peshmerga largely unreported. Not unusual, Rudaw did not reveal how bad the KDP got defeated until routing units had reached the city of Irbil shortly before Airstrikes went in.

    Also largely unreported is the large number of IS company level raids into Peshmerga territory where they take on an isolated base and destroy it before retreating.

    Much of what we hear is just a small portion of the carnage.

    IS strangely is not counter-attacking in force against the YPG advance on Tal Abyad, preferring a fighting withdrawal.

    But note IS has lost control of that border point only to retake it later last year. But as it withdraws, the YPG are committing warcrimes against Arabs and Turkmens that is visible from the Turkish Border and US Reconnaissance and has already caused the Khabour Guards to quit the YPG coalition, accusing YPG of killing their commander and trying to seize their villages.

    YPG actions don’t surprise me as it is a smokescreen for PKK a Marxist Terrorist Organization that killed 30,000 Turks and can be considered the Atheist Version of IS in many ways. Which is why many Kurds are fleeing PYD held areas as well, as YPG human wave tactics are getting so many of their fighters killed they have begun drafting children. If FSA, SAA, and the US weren’t holding their hand, YPG would have been extinguished last year.

    So in effect the US is supporting terrorists to fight terrorists and there are no good groups to support anymore.

    And no supporting the KRG won’t solve the issue:

    KDP is a Turkish Puppet and Islamist leaning. Its also corrupt and its Peshmerga units broke apart against IS forces last year due to Officers getting their job by being loyal to Barzani. They’re useless scumbags more concerned with arresting Yezidis and Assyrian Commanders who refuse to take orders from KRG and prefer to get them from Abadi.

    PUK is an Iranian Puppet. Their forces fight to the death, and never once have they ran from IS. They hate the US though.

    Oh did I mention these two fought a brutal civil war in the past and constantly bash heads over Peshmerga strategy and who runs Kirkuk?

    • Ramirez says:

      Interesting.

      Could you please provide me some sources to what you have stated. I need to show a supporter of YPG who believes they are pious freedom fighters.

  • Christopher Murphy says:

    Its amazing how dumb young men are in general. The people involved in terrorism are the dumbest of the dumb. There is no way on Murphs green earth that these numb skulls can beat the educated people of the world. One might say that a bomb maker or leader is witty or intelligent, but that doesn’t mean he/she isn’t also under the idiot spectrum. I understand this isn’t article specific but I read LJW all the time and feeling a little feisty. I also love the great comments I read from seemingly super smart military wonks. Thanks LWJ, and contributers. PS flags made in China should never be sold in the USA. When will LWJ start covering Chinas passive aggressive war? F China 😉

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