One day after 18 Turk nationals were abducted from a stadium construction site in Baghdad’s Sadr City, carried out on Wednesday, September 2nd by a group of Katayeb Hezbollah militants wearing SWAT uniforms who raided the site with 20 bullet-proof, double axes vehicles, Baghdad Operations Command issued a statement saying:
“On Thursday, September 3rd, following information gathering regarding the presence of members of a group that abducted the Turk workers, a force was dispatched to a search and investigation mission in Palestine Avenue and Mohandesin neighborhood 507. However, these units were attacked by Katayeb militants attempting to prevent their advances.” These clashes began on Thursday night during which 1 soldier was killed and three others were injured. 15 of the security forces with their HUMVEE vehicles were also taken captive by the Katayeb forces.
On Friday, September 4th the state-run al-Iraqiya TV cited a source in the Interior Ministry saying Baghdad Operations Command has kept the Katayeb base under siege. A group of militants, already embedded with the Iraqi government, entered the scene and began inspecting the Katayeb base in place of the security forces. They concluded that nothing was found at the site and closed the entire case. Finally, Ahmed al-Assadi, the militants’ official spokesman warned the Iraqi government they are not permitted to enter the militants’ bases in Baghdad without prior coordination.
In this piece I would like to in brief provide an insight into the status of Katayeb Hezbollah militants.
Katayeb Hezbollah is a special terrorist group linked to the Quds Force. These battalions began their activities under the name of ‘Abolfazl al-Abbas Battalions’ and carried out their first attack against US forces on October 23rd, 2003 in the Baladiyat region. Their objective was to target one of their HUMVEE vehicles stationed at the back of Hotel Qanat.
On August 21st, 2007 the Quds Force merged the ranks and files of all Abolfazl al-Abbas, Karbala, Zeid bin Ali, Ali Akbar and Sajjad battalions and issued a statement announcing the formation of the Hezbollah battalions.
“Katayeb Hezbollah” uses a symbol similar to the Lebanese Hezbollah. However, they have placed a map of Iraq and not Israel in the center of their logo.
Training for the members of these battalions is provided by Lebanese Hezbollah instructors dispatched to Iraq by the Quds Force. Ten instructors have constantly been commuting to Iran. One of the main instructors is an individual by the name of Ali Mousa Daghdug, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah commander who was arrested by US forces back in July 2007. Another main Hezbollah instructor by the name of Fars was also arrested by US forces in 2008. Hezbollah instructors were providing training for Shiite militias from early April 2008 (prior to the Basra encounter between the Sadrists and government forces). As the Basra battles began they went to Iran and transferred all the training there. The Quds Force prefers to use Lebanese Hezbollah instructors, and not Iranian instructors, to train Iraqi Hezbollah because they speak Arabic and can easily establish relations with them. Furthermore, this would downgrade the presence of the Quds Force in Iraq.
Their training includes explosives, ambushes and using missiles and mortar rounds in former Revolutionary Guards (IRG) bases in Iran. Hezbollah battalion members were receiving training on terrorist operations in Iraq against Coalition forces, in four different cities of Qom, Tehran, Ahvaz and Mashhad. US forces issued a statement in July 2008 saying Katayeb Hezbollah was receiving military training by the IRGC, along with providing arms, money and military equipment.
Chronology of Attacks
Following 2003 various groups were establishing independent relations with the Quds Force, keeping everything in the dark and none being informed about the others’ status. Their operations, mainly focused against Coalition forces in Baghdad and southern provinces, were carried out independently and all briefed and instructed separately by the Quds Force.
Hezbollah battalions advanced their military activities, with aid provided by the Quds Force, after 2006. They were seen using Russian-made Katiusha rockets in single, double and multiple attacks. Some attacks consisted of 30 such missiles. They then began using sniper rifles and Sterla anti-helicopter missiles, and Katayeb Hezbollah went on declared the production of Ashtar missiles in 2008.
US forces, backed by Iraqi forces, conducted expansive operations against armed Shiite groups in the summer of 2008. These operations, dubbed “Sula al-Farsan”, were carried out during former prime minister Nouri Maliki’s tenure. Hatayeb Hezbollah units were targeted in these operations.
The January 2007 attack on the Karbala governorate office, in which five US soldiers were murder, was carried out by Katayeb Hezbollah under direct orders of the Quds Force, intelligence shows. The abduction of five British citizens from the Finance Ministry building in Baghdad in May 2007 was planned and directly supervised by the Quds Force, and carried out on the scene by Katayeb Hezbollah militants.
With the signing of a security agreement nearing between the US and Iraq, Katayeb Hezbollah issued a statement on November 24, 2008 expressing its clear and firm opposition to the security agreement signing with the US. They called on their members to raise arms against anyone agreeing with the deal.
The US State Department on July 2, 2009 placed Katayeb Hezbollah and various other Iraqi political figures close to this group on its terrorist list, and the US Treasury Department began freezing their assets.
On October 18, 2009 the BBC website published a news report from the US Defense Department revealing that the Katayeb Hezbollah were able to use a software to hack into the direct broadcast network specialized for US-made MQ-I Predator and MQ-9 Raptors drones.
In 2010 Katayeb Hezbollah enhanced the Russian-made Katiusha missiles and began manufacturing new missiles, known as Zolfaqar, Karrar and Heidar. These missiles were used in attacks against US bases. On January 5, 2011 Katayeb attacked various US bases, including Calso located north of Hilla and Saliz, Victory and Liberty in Baghdad with a series of Ashtar and Karrar missiles.
Their operations against coalition forces continued until the last day of the US forces withdrawal from Iraq, and Katayeb Hezbollah issued a statement on January 1, 2012 declaring their victory over US forces one day after the last US soldier set foot out of Iraq.
There is no information about the hierarchy and ranks and files of this group on the field, as it is considered one of the special groups of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and trained and used to carry out special operations. The names of this group’s members were never revealed until US forces withdrew from Iraq. Afterwards, the names of a limited number of their commanders were announced, including:
Seyed Jassem al-Jazaeri, Director of Public Relations and member of Katayeb Hezbollah Political Bureau
Haj Jassem al-Ka’bi: Official spokesman of Katayeb Hezbollah and the first figure to appear as the spokesman of this group during their celebrations on 4 February 2012 following the withdrawal evacuation of US forces. This event was held in the Hay Baladiyat district of eastern Baghdad.
Hossein Munes Abu Messi: A Katayeb Hezbollah field commander. He was arrested by US forces in late 2008 and released in April 2012.
Khalid Ismaeel Abu Mustafa: In charge of financial and recruiting affairs in Katayeb Hezbollah. He is working under the cover of a security company. Special ops arrested him in September 2009.
Abu Zeinab: in charge of engineering for Katayeb Hezbollah
Institutions linked to Katayeb
1. Imam Hossein Scout Institute
Established in 2011 this entity is missioned to prepare and train children and youths to enter the group.
Sheikh Abu Taleb al-Seyedi is a senior official in Katayeb Hezbollah.
2. Academic Experts Institute
This entity is specifically formed for youths and college students, and intends to input Islam into universities.
3. Women’s Cultural Institute
This entity is specifically designed for women.
4. Mesbah Cultural Institute
Connection with Maliki
Following the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, the Quds Force ordered Katayeb Hezbollah to support Maliki in the political process in Iraq. From then on this group acted as one of Maliki’s special groups, carrying out abductions and murdering those opposing Maliki across Iraq. This group used government clothing to carry out their terrorists operations, such as clothing and vehicles allocated for security forces.
One of the most important operations carried out by this group was an attack on Camp Ashraf of the Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran in 2013 that led to the massacre of 52 of these Iranian dissidents. This operation was planned by the Quds Force and carried out by one of the elite units of Katayeb Hezbollah. Maliki had paved their path into the camp to carry out this attack.
Following the fall of Mosul this group received orders from the Quds Force to begin fighting ISIS. They joined the security forces coinciding with the formation of the Popular Mobilization Forces under orders issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. PMF members were actually placed into the ranks and files of Katayeb Hezbollah units and they established numerous bases in Baghdad.
With Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Haider al-Abadi coming to power, this group continues its activities as a militia unit in the fight against ISIS, and also carrying out abductions in Baghdad and other cities. This group, moving around with SWAT uniforms and double-axes security vehicles with tinted windows only used by Iraqi security forces, has no restrictions in their commuting in Baghdad and other areas. No unit has the right to block their movements.
In May 2015 two Katayeb Hezbollah members were arrested and held by police in Taji, north of Baghdad, on charges of abduction. The group attacked the police station, severely injured the police officers and freed their member. Iraqi security forces showed no reaction to this attack.
- AK-47 rifles, pistols, M16 rifles and PKC medium machine gun
- RPG-7s, B-29 and HS-50 snipers rifles
- 60mm to 180mm mortars, Katiusha rockets, Sterla anti-air defense, single barrel, double barrel and four-barrel anti-aircraft artillery
- Mini-Katiusha launchers, ground-installed and installed on vehicles
- Katayeb Hezbollah has experience in using various IEDs in numerous attacks against US forces.
These are large packages shaped like missiles and dubbed IRAM by US forces. This package contains hundreds of kilograms of explosives and Katayeb Hezbollah used it against a number of US bases in Iraq.
Basir 1 missile
|Basir 1 missile|
- Satellite TV stations include Atteja. This is the main voice of Katayeb Hezbollah, but is considered an unofficial media outlet. These programs are aired on Nile Sat, frequency 10930, horizontal; and on Hotbird, frequency 12380, vertical.
- There are no land TV channels.
- Radio stations include Radio Atteja, 106.3 FM, and Radio Kowthar, 104.9 FM. The latter is similar to Atteja radio station.
- Press: The Iraqi ‘Moraqib’ daily