published : 2023-11-07

Iranian Shadow Militias Target US, Israel in Middle East

New FDD Report Highlights 15 Iran-Backed Militias Actively Working Against US Interests

An image of Iranian shadow militias in action, taken with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark III.

A new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) has shed light on the activities of 15 Iran-backed militias across the Middle East.

These militias, with close ties to Tehran, are working as a 'force multiplier' to oppose Israel and the United States.

While Iran's support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad is widely known, the report reveals Iran's long-term project of building and coopting militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at FDD and co-author of the report, warns that Iran's creation of these militias creates a fog of uncertainty and plausible deniability for Iran's actions.

Unfortunately, many American politicians buy into this facade.

The report comes at a time when the Biden administration's deals with Iran, including a $6 billion prisoner exchange, have faced scrutiny.

These deals were reportedly paused after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 Israelis.

One of the notable militias mentioned in the report is the Badr Organization, which has served as an Iranian proxy since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

A photo capturing the devastation caused by attacks on U.S. bases in the Middle East, taken with a Nikon D850.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran expanded its militia-building project by coopting the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia led by Muqtada al-Sadr.

This led to the establishment of several new militias, such as Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and Hezbollah Brigades.

These militias maintained close ties to the Mahdi Army and were commanded by senior Mahdi Army officers.

The report highlights the incestuous relationship between these militias and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with some militia commanders swearing unquestionable loyalty to Iran's Supreme Leader.

The IRGC armed, trained, funded, and provided safe haven for these militias on Iranian territory.

During the U.S. presence in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, more than 600 American soldiers were killed in attacks by these Iran-backed militias.

The report also mentions Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, as one of the 15 militias coopted or created by Iran in Yemen and Bahrain.

The Houthis, with control over much of northern Yemen, including the capital Sana'a, possess an arsenal of medium-range cruise and ballistic missiles capable of targeting Israel.

A close-up shot of Bill Roggio, co-author of the report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

Their official motto reflects their hostility towards the U.S. and Israel.

Iran's expansion of its militia-building project in Iraq and Syria coincided with the rise of the Islamic State in 2014.

Several new militias were founded, including Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, the Imam Ali Brigades, and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, led by key commanders within Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and Hezbollah Brigades.

These militias have become experienced and battle-hardened, having fought against the U.S. military, al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State, and Syrian rebel groups.

According to Roggio, the underlying problem in the Middle East is the Iranian regime's animosity towards the United States.

He emphasizes the need for the U.S. administration to acknowledge this reality instead of engaging in deals that may complicate the situation further.