A newly released interrogation report shows that Qayis al-Khazali identified Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani as the two individuals Iran trusted “the most with attempting to implement the Iranian agenda in Iraq.” The pair went from being marginal players shortly after the US-led invasion in 2003 to leading the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, one of most powerful and influential military organizations in Iraq.
The League of the Righteous, which has threatened Americans in Iraq and also carried out several kidnappings, is the prime suspect. The Shiite militia has denied any involvement in the abduction of the three Americans.
Iranian-backed Shia militias are fighting for Assad in Aleppo as regime forces, backed by Hezbollah and Russian airstrikes, try to push back jihadists and rebels in the northern province.
Akram Abbas al Kabi, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and the leader of the Harakat Nujaba, said his group and others “will seek revenge” for what he claimed was a US airstrike that killed 10 members of the League of the Righteous.
US officials and generals continue to downplay the involvement of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in offensives in Iraq, and their dominance of the Popular Mobilization Committee.
Several Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups continue to operate in Tikrit, despite claims by US government officials that most of these militias had left the battle. The US continues to launch airstrikes to support Iraqi forces and these militias, many leaders of which are responsible for killing US and Coalition servicemen during the Iraq War.
The US has reversed its decision to avoid assisting Iranian-backed Shiite militias and is now providing direct air support in the battle for Tikrit. Many militia leaders and one militia fighting in Tikrit are on the US terrorism list.
A Human Rights Watch report says that the militias looted, burned thousands of buildings, and abducted at least 11 people during the Amerli offensive last summer. “The widespread burning of civilian homes by the militia groups in areas under their control appeared to have had no clear military objective and to represent collective punishment against residents of local Sunni villages,” HRW stated.