AAH has claimed responsibility for over 6,000 attacks on American and Coalition forces.
In 2017, AAH created a party with the same name.
Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq split from the Sadrist Movement
in 2004. Qais al-Khazali
split from Muqtada al-Sadr
's Mahdi Army
after the Shi'a uprising in 2004
to create his own Khazali network. When the Mahdi Army signed a cease-fire with the government and the Americans and the fighting stopped, Khazali continued fighting, and during the battle Khazali was already issuing his own orders to militiamen without Muqtada al-Sadr's approval. The group's leadership (which includes Khazali, Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji
(a politician in Muqtada al-Sadr's Sadr Movement
) and Akram al-Kaabi
), however, reconciled with al-Sadr in mid-2005. In July 2006, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq was founded and became one of the Special Groups which operated more independently from the rest of the Mahdi Army. It became a completely independent organisation after the Mahdi Army's disbanding after the 2008 Shi'a uprising
In July 2006, A part of AAH fought alongside Hezbollah
in 2006 Lebanon War
In November 2008 when Sadr created the Promised Day Brigade
to succeed the Mahdi Army, he asked AAH (and other Special Groups) to join, but they declined.
AAH has claimed responsibility for over 6,000 attacks in Iraq
including the October 10, 2006 attack on Camp Falcon
, the assassination of the American military commander in Najaf
, the May 6, 2006 downing of a British Lynx helicopter
and the October 3, 2007 attack on the Polish ambassador
Their most known attack, however, is the January 20, 2007 Karbala provincial headquarters raid
where they infiltrated the U.S. Army's offices at Karbala
, killed one soldier, then abducted and killed four more American soldiers. After the raid, the U.S. military launched a crackdown on AAH and the raid's mastermind Azhar al-Dulaimi
was killed in Baghdad, while much of the group's leadership including the brothers Qais and Laith al-Khazali
and Lebanese Hezbollah
member Ali Musa Daqduq
who was Khazali's advisor was in charge of their relations with Hezbollah. After these arrests in 2007, Akram al-Kaabi, who had been the military commander of the Mahdi Army until May 2007, led the organisation.
In May 2007, AAH kidnapped British IT expert Peter Moore
and his four bodyguards. They demanded the release of all their fighters being imprisoned by the Iraqi authorities and US military in return for his release.
His four bodyguards were killed, but Moore himself was released when AAH's leader Qais al-Khazali was released in January 2010.
Prior to Qazali's release, security forces had already released over 100 of the group's members including Laith al-Khazali.
In 2008 many of the groups fighters and leaders fled to Iran after the Iraqi Army was allowed to re-take control of Sadr City
and the Mahdi Army was disbanded. Here most fighters were re-trained in new tactics. It resulted in a major lull in the group's activity from May to July 2008.
In February 2010, AAH kidnapped DoD civilian Issa T. Salomi, a naturalized American from Iraq. This was the first high-profile kidnapping of a foreigner in Iraq since the kidnapping of Peter Moore (which was also done by AAH). Salomi was released in March 2010 in return for the release of four AAH fighters being held in Iraqi custody.
In total 450 members of AAH have been handed over from US to Iraqi custody since the kidnapping of Peter Moore, over 250 of which have been released by the Iraqi authorities.
On July 21, 2010 General Ray Odierno said Iran was supporting three Shiite extremist groups in Iraq that had been attempting to attack US bases. One of the groups was AAH and the other two were the Promised Day Brigade and Ketaib Hezbollah.
In August and September 2012, AAH started a poster campaign in which they distributed over 20,000 posters of Iran's Supreme LeaderAyatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei
throughout Iraq. A senior official in Baghdad's local government said municipal workers were afraid to take the posters down in fear of retribution by AAH militiamen.
Iraq protests, 2018–present
In late 2018, protests in Basra, Iraq
saw several Iran-related organizations being targeted.
Among the damage caused by protesters were several AAH offices which were set on fire.
In October 2019, AAH militia opened fire on protesters trying to set fire to the group's office in Nasiriya
, killing at least nine protesters.
Syrian Civil War
branch is called the Haidar al-Karar Brigades
, and led by Akram al-Kaabi, AAH's military leader stationed in Aleppo
al-Kaabi is also the founder and leader of the militant group Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba
The group initially fought under the banner of al-Abbas Brigade
(a mixed Syrian, Iraqi and Lebanese Shia organization), but split in 2014 following a dispute with al-Abbas's native Syrian fighters.
Like other Iraqi Shia paramilitaries in Syria, they fight in defense of the Sayyidah Zainab shrine
AAH took part in the 2014 Iraqi parliamentary election
as part of the Al-Sadiqoun Bloc. An electoral meeting of estimated 100,000 supporters of Al-Sadiqoun was marred by violence as a series of bombs exploded at the campaign rally held at the Industrial Stadium in eastern Baghdad killing at least 37 people and wounding scores others, according to Iraqi police.
The group organizers had planned to announce at the rally the names of its candidates for the parliamentary election. At the election, the Al-Sadiquun Bloc won just one seat out of 328 seats in the Iraqi Parliament.
AAH's strength was estimated at about 3,000 fighters in March 2007.
In July 2011, however, officials estimated there were less than 1,000 AAH militiamen left in Iraq.
The group is alleged to receive some $5 million worth of cash and weapons every month from Iran.
In January 2012, following the American withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, Qais al-Khazali declared the United States was defeated and that now the group was prepared to disarm and join the political process.
As of 2006 AAH had at least four major operational branches:
- The Imam al-Ali Brigade – Responsible for Southern Iraq (Iraq's 9 Shi'a governorates: Babil, al-Basrah, Dhi Qar, al-Karbala, Maysan, al-Muthanna, an Najaf, al-Qadisiyyah and Wasit Governorates)
- The Imam al-Kazem Brigade – Responsible for West-Baghdad (mainly the Shi'a Kadhimiya and Al Rashid districts but also some minor activity in the mixed Karkh district and the mainly Sunni Mansour district)
- The Imam al-Hadi Brigade – Responsible for East-Baghdad (mainly the Shi'a Thawra, Nissan and Karrada districts but with some minor activity in the mixed Rusafa district and the mainly Sunni Adhamiyah district)
- The Iman al-Askari Brigade – Responsible for Central Iraq (mainly active the Shi'a areas in Southern Diyala, Samarra City (in Salah ad-Din Governorate) and some Shi'a enclaves in Nineveh and Kirkuk Governorates)
- The Haidar al-Karar Brigades – Responsible for Syria, mainly Southern Damascus and West Aleppo.
- 41st Brigade
- 42nd Brigade Quwat Liwa al-Shaheed al-Qa'id Abu Mousa al-Amiri
- 43rd Brigade
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Last edited on 2 April 2021, at 10:01
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