Iranian-backed Bahraini militias eulogize Soleimani, Muhandis

Flags of the various Iranian-backed Bahraini militias which signed onto the joint statement.

Several Iranian-backed militias in Bahrain have released a joint statement eulogizing both Iranian Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, the founder of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades and deputy leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

“The arrogant state of America and its idiot President Trump has committed a great and treacherous crime in the assassination of the Mujahid and great commander Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Qods Force, and the great Mujahid Abu Mahdi al Muhandis,” the joint statement begins.

In regards to the death of the two terror leaders, the groups state that “we send our condolences and blessings to the owner of the era and time, Imam Khamenei, and the Islamic Ummah [worldwide community].”

The statement continues with “we in the Islamic Resistance of Bahrain confirm that we are all as one faction in today’s battle, [which] is a battle of truth with falsehood and we cannot be divided in this battle.”

It goes on to say that the “battle” is also about “confronting the tyrants, at its head is America,” and that they “consider all of its interests and presence in Bahrain as legitimate targets.”

Ending its message, the militias say that “we confirm that the blood of the martyr Qassem Soleimani will intensify the will of the resistance in Bahrain more than ever before.”

Iranian-backed militias in Bahrain

Signing the message is Saraya al Ashtar, Saraya al Mokhtar, Saraya Waad Allah, Saraya Thair Allah, and Saraya al Muqawama al Sha’abiya (Popular Resistance Companies, PRC).

The PRC is Bahrain’s oldest militia within the “Islamic Resistance” branding, having begun military operations on the island in August 2012.

However, it has not claimed an operation since Dec. 2017. Though Bahraini authorities did state last year that it continues to train members in explosive making.

Both Saraya al Ashtar, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, and Saraya al Mokhtar have longstanding ties to both Iran and its proxies inside Iraq.

Bahraini officials have alleged that the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, which was led by Muhandis, and other Iraqi militias, as well as Lebanese Hezbollah, have provided extensive training to the groups.

While not explicitly mentioning the Brigades in its designation of the militia, the U.S. State Department did confirm that Saraya al Ashtar has indeed received training inside Iraq.

In 2017, the U.S. State Department designated two members of Saraya al Ashtar as global terrorists. State noted that one of the individuals, Hasan Yusuf, is an Iran-based senior member of the group.

Additionally members of Saraya al Mokhtar have been seen on the frontlines in Iraq and its leadership has toured facilities of several Iranian proxies in the country, including Kata’ib Imam Ali.

While Saraya Waad Allah, which has claimed several bombings inside Bahrain, is believed to be a front for Saraya al Ashtar.

And Saraya Thair Allah, the newest militia in Bahrain, has only claimed one attack so far in its existence. However, it recently changed its logo to be more aligned with the branding of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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