Iraqi militias crack down on several “fake headquarters”
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Hashd al-Chaabi militias, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (FMP), have shut down a number of “fake headquarters” in Baghdad belonging to groups they falsely claim belong to their organization. The intensive crackdown began after the leader of one of the groups publicly criticized Iran’s influence in Iraq.
Initially, a group of PMF fighters stormed the headquarters of the Abu al-Fadhl al-Abbas brigade in the Karrada district of central Baghdad on Thursday and arrested its leader, Aws al-Khafaji.
The action came days after Khafaji appeared on a local Iraqi television station to talk about the recent assassination in Karbala of Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub, who was from his tribe. In an interview, Khafaji gave as the reason for the murder the author’s âanti-Iranian writingsâ and blamed those who âdefend Tehran in the countryâ, without specifying names.
Khafaji has long criticized Iran’s policy in Iraq and has repeatedly expressed his disapproval of local clerics and leaders “exaggerating” in their defense of Iran. He also said that Iraq’s sovereignty should be “preserved and respected”.
Hashd al-Shaabi leaders, many of whom are directly supported by Iran, said that after Khafaji’s arrest they would continue to shut down the offices of other groups falsely claiming PMF affiliation. Later that day, the PMF claimed that its fighters had closed four headquarters “claiming to be PMF” in Karrada district, central Baghdad.
PMF issued another statement on Sunday announcing the lockdown of the “headquarters of the so-called I’telaf Soqoor Dawlat al-Iraq [The Hawks of the State of Iraq]â, Also located in the district of Karrada. The statement also claimed that PMF fighters, in coordination with Iraqi security forces, discovered “false papers and documents relating to the sale of public real estate in the name of the Hashd body” inside the seized building.
The headquarters of another militia which “is called Intifadha al-Sha’baniya [Popular Uprising]âLocated in the Bab al-Sharqi neighborhood of Baghdad, was also listed as having been targeted. According to another statement from the PMF, the group’s leader, Brigadier General Ali al-Sakkari, was found in possession of false identity documents.
PMF also announced actions against other “bogus” branches, including one in the Sadoun area of ââBaghdad, where it said more forged documents were found as well as an unspecified amount of alcohol in storage. It also included the mention of raids on the group “Kutlat Da’m al-Dawla [State Support Block]”And, in the district of Doura,” Kat’ib al-Nukhba al-Qitali [Elite Combat Battalions]”, Was reportedly in possession of” light and heavy weapons and uniforms “and false documents.
In the Mansour district of the capital, three additional headquarters were closed and “printed identity cards and small arms” confiscated, along with the groups “Haraka al-Ibdal [Change Movement]”,” Haraka al-Wila’iyoun [The Loyalistsâ Movement]”And” Maktab al-Tali’a [Pioneerâs Office]”also be named.
The Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq issued a statement in conjunction with the campaign saying that state prosecutors acted “in cooperation with the relevant authorities in shutting down the bogus seat unrelated to public institutions.”
Traditional Iraqi forces, unable to fight ISIS effectively after the group’s emergence in 2014, relied on the PMF during the war to defeat them, and the militias were integrated into the Iraqi security apparatus. Many of the militias that make up the PMF have long and well-documented histories of human rights violations and war crimes, including mass disappearances, sectarian killings and mass displacement.
Edited by John J. Catherine