In a joint statement, Saraya al-Ashtar and Saraya Wa’ad Allah, both Iranian-backed militias in the island Kingdom of Bahrain, sent their condolences to the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades – itself an Iranian proxy – over the recent killing of one of its top commanders in a U.S. drone strike.
The statement follows the killing of Wissam Muhammad al-Saadi, who was also known as Abu Baqir al-Saadi, by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq’s Baghdad yesterday. Before his death, al-Saadi was the commander of Hezbollah Brigades’ Syrian operations and was thus responsible for its attacks on U.S. personnel there.
This likely includes the recent attack on a Jordanian base that killed three U.S. troops, which was widely blamed on the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades. Al-Jazeera has also identified al-Saadi as the commander of Hezbollah Brigades’ drone forces, which puts further emphasis on his responsibility for the killing of the U.S. troops.
“With hearts full of faith, patience, and determination in the path of resistance and trust in God,” the statement begins, “we congratulate our brothers in the Islamic Resistance – Hezbollah Brigades – on the ascension of the hero, al-Hajj al-Mujahid Wissam Muhammad al-Saadi.”
The two groups praise al-Saadi for “being a martyr on the path to Jerusalem, who concluded a journey full of jihad and resistance since the American occupation [of Iraq].” The statement also reports that al-Saadi was instrumental in Hezbollah Brigades’ contribution to the fight against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.
According to the Iranian-backed militias, al-Saadi “joins his fellow martyred leaders as a martyr covered in blood with the highest rewards at the hands of God’s most evil creation, the Great Satan, America.”
Despite the killing of al-Saadi, the two groups still encourage those within the wider Islamic Resistance, or Iran’s network of various militias and organizations across the Middle East, to not give up the fight.
“We continue this march without weakness until our Ummah [worldwide Islamic community] is liberated from the enslavement by the forces of arrogance and their hegemony over our Islamic Ummah.”
Relations between Hezbollah Brigades and Bahrain
As one of Iran’s largest proxy forces in Iraq, the Hezbollah Brigades are not unknown to the smaller, less capable Bahraini militias. Despite some evidence of direct support in the past, this more tangible relationship seems to have weakened. However, the latter continue to revere its fellow group in the so-called Islamic Resistance.
Bahraini authorities have long accused the Hezbollah Brigades of training several of the more prominent militias on the island, especially Saraya al-Ashtar. These accusations were seemingly confirmed by the State Department when it designated the group as a terrorist organization, as it noted that al-Ashtar members received training in Iraq.
While the Hezbollah Brigades has never mentioned Saraya al-Ashtar by name, it does have a stated history of rhetorically supporting resistance movements in Bahrain. For instance, it recorded at least nine videos between March and April 2011 showing attacks in five of Iraq’s provinces and within Baghdad in the name of Bahrain’s revolution movement (note: videos have since been deleted from YouTube and thus not linked here).
It is unclear if this relationship remains as strong today as militancy in Bahrain is severely weakened as a result of Bahraini counter-terrorism operations. For instance, no claimed attack has taken place on the island since 2019, according to data kept by FDD’s Long War Journal.
Despite the general lack of operational activity, many of Iran’s sponsored groups continue to operate in Bahrain. This includes Saraya al-Mokhtar, another U.S. designated terrorist organization with its own litany of ties to Iraq-based Iranian proxies, and Saraya Wa’ad Allah.
It was Saraya Wa’ad Allah, for instance, that praised Hamas’ invasion of Israel and subsequent massacres of civilians on Oct. 7, 2023. In the same statement, it produced a call to arms for fellow Bahraini militants to ramp up activities on the island, specifically against Israelis and Jews.
This threat has yet to materialize.