On the morning of Thursday, September 3rd masked armed men wearing SWAT uniforms and using 20 black vehicles with tinted windows abducted 18 Turk workers in the Habibiya district of Baghdad’s Sadr City, transferring them to an unknown location with their hands tied behind their backs.
The demands raised by this group for the release of the abducted workers clearly reveal that the main motivator behind this abduction is none other than Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force that are seeking their own political objectives. A look at the history of the Death Squads sheds light on the role of Iran and militant groups linked to the Quds Force in the abduction of the Turk workers, and also the new wave of abductions in Baghdad and other cities across the country.
Death Squad is the nickname of groups linked to the Quds Force, including Katayeb Hezbollah, Asaeb al-Haq and the Badr Organization. The term “Death Squads” in Iraq were used for the first time back in 2005. Baghdad Governor Ali al-Haidari was assassinated by death squads in April 2005. The death squads were the same 9th Badr terror networks commanded by some of the most loyal Iraqi elements to Iran. An individual by the name of Hossein Tahan was the commander of the death squad that assumed responsibility for this assassination at the time. The irony is that Tahan was afterwards appointed as Baghdad governor by then Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr.
The initial idea of forming the death squads sparked in 2004. Following sessions held by the Quds Force with senior Badr commanders in Tehran and Iraq, the highest terrorist command unit linked to the Quds Force was “Jihaz Markazi” in Iraq. According to Quds Force orders, arrangements were made for the Badr Organization to form a top-secret organization called the “Angels of Death”, assigned to assassinate Iraqi figures opposing Iran, professors, physicians, pilots, former military commanders and other Iraqi elites. Jihaz Markazi was commanded by a 12-man committee consisting of senior Badr Corps commanders and one high ranking commander from Iran’s Quds Force.
Some members of the Jihaz Markazi 12-man committee were:
Hossein Mohammad Ali Manaf al-Baghdadi (Hossein Tahan), Baghdad Governor
Tahsin Abed Mattar al-Abudi, aka Abu Montadher al-Husseini, Interior Ministry advisor
Mohamed Na’me Nosser al-Hassan, aka Abu Zolfaqar Hassan, Interior Ministry operations deputy
Abu Karam al-Wandi, Interior Ministry intelligence official
Abu Nour al-Hosseini (Hamed Abdullah Ibrahim al-Hosseini), commander of the Interior Ministry Special Guard Brigade and commander of Baghdad’s Green Zone intelligence
Based on written reports sent by the Badr intelligence branch to the Quds Force, up to February 2007 more than 15,000 Iraqis from all walks of life were identified to be assassinated and “cleansed”. They were all eventually murdered through the years by the death squads and various terrorist networks.
In June 2004 Badr intelligence units had a number of secret homes in Baghdad prepared for the death squads. Those in charge of these secret homes were mainly the main elements of the Quds Force terror network in Iraq, such as Abu Mostafa Sheibani and Hossein Tahan.
Tahan, with the real name of Hossein Mohamed Ali Manaf al-Baghdad (Abu Hana al-Baghdadi), was a senior Badr commander hired by the Revolutionary Guards in Iran in 1987. He was stationed in Kermanshah’s Kenesht region as a commander of the Badr terrorist operations in a base called Velayat-e Faqih. This was the 9th Badr command headquarters at the time. Most of the assassinations carried out by the death squads in Baghdad after 2005 were carried out with facilitation provided by the Baghdad governorate, all coordinated and provided for by Hossein Tahan. During his tenure as Baghdad governor, Tahan launched a number of special terror networks, all consisting of 9th Badr members.
The death squads commanded by Hossein Tahan were mainly under the command of his own security team, including Abu Jawad al-Karbalaie, the commander of Tahan’s bodyguards. Abu Jawad, with the real name of Qassem Shaltagh Hashim al-Kanani from the city of al-Imara in the south. He was a senior 9th Badr commander who had lived in Iran for over 20 years. He began working with Tahan in Iran in the 9th Badr intelligence branch.
Abu Hossein Kamiti, real name of Ali Hossein Eidi al-Zargush, was another death squad commander and a senior member of the security team around Hossein Tahan. He had lived for more than 20 years in Iran’s Fort Ghayour. Two individuals associated to the 9th Badr forces, by the names of Meitham and Abu Moshtaq, were death squad commanders linked to the Abu Hosseini Kamiti network.
Two other members of Tahan’s inner circle were Abu Sha’eeb (governor’s chief-of-staff) and Moien al-Kazemi (Abu Hani), chair of the Baghdad city council. These two figures were in command of other terror networks consisting of a number of death squads. All these networks and cells were linked to the death squads commanded by the 9th Badr group under Quds Force supervision.
In the years after 2006 other militia groups linked to the Quds Force such as Katayeb Hezbollah and Asaeb al-Haq were also seen using the term “death squad” to cloak their true identity. This has continued to this day, and during the past few years these forces have confiscated a large amount of military equipment and supplies related to the Iraqi Army under the pretext of taking part in war fronts. All this equipment has been used for their own purposes and placed at the disposal of their terrorist cells.
What is clear is that during the abduction of the Turk workers in Baghdad, Iran used the Katayeb Hezbollah in this operation to place pressure on al-Abadi’s government to both have a negative impact on al-Abadi’s reforms and set the scores in its political disputes with Turkey. The demands raised by the abductors are stopping armed individuals flooding into Iraq form Turkey, ending the export of Kurdistan oil transferred through Turkey, ordering the Fatah Army in Syria (opposing Assad) to end their siege on the towns of Kafariya, Fo’e, Nabal and al-Zahra where Assad’s forces are stationed. This clearly shows Iran’s tracks in this abduction.