The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On January 21, 2022, Islamic State (ISIS) attacked an Iraqi military base near Al-'Udhaim in the Diyala Province in the east of the country, killing 11 servicemen, including an officer. In its claim of responsibility for the attack, the organization notes that it took place following "extensive [security activity] by the Iraqi forces and militias… which ended in a new defeat."
The heads of the Shi'ite militias exploited the attack to repeat their usual claim that ISIS was created by the U.S. and is used by the Americans and Emiratis to further their interests. They also attacked the Iraqi government, headed by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, saying that it neglects Iraq's security and employs its security forces to defend the American forces. Some of the militia heads directly threatened Iraqi officials, calling to "expel the villains, starting with [those in] Baghdad."
The following are excerpts from the statements by the heads of the Shi'ite militias:
Abu 'Ali Al-'Askari, the military spokesman for the Hizbullah Brigades, posted a message on Telegram: "ISIS' ongoing barbaric crimes in Iraq, which kill our people in Diyala and elsewhere, compel us to expose this organization's supporters in Iraq and to confront them. Everyone must know that ISIS receives support from local, regional, and international [elements]." As part of the fight against ISIS, Al-'Askari elaborates, there is a need to fight the politicians who support it and "expose the ties between it and the Arabs of the Gulf, as well as the U.S., who provide [ISIS] with means of laundering money for their criminal operations."
Al-'Askari also repeats claims that have been heard recently from other elements in the Iran-backed militias, namely that Muhammed Al-Halbousi, the Speaker of Iraq's Council of Representatives, along with tribal heads in the Al-Anbar Province, has founded a Sunni militia called Ashbah Al-Sahra (Ghosts of the Desert), some of whose troops have been deployed in Baghdad allegedly to defend the offices of the Sunni political parties in an effort to destabilize the security situation in the capital. He also implies that Sadrist movement head Mutada Al-Sadr is defending this militia, and calls on the Iraqi security forces, the Popular Mobilization Units and the Iraqi resistance factions to "act without hesitation to expel these villains, starting in Baghdad."
J'afar Al-Husseini, spokesman for the Hizbullah Brigades tweeted, "The time has come. We have armed ourselves with bullets and filled the country with shouts of 'The humiliation stops here.' This is the time to complete the certain victory. The cowards lurk in envy and as we promised they are transient. The treacherous politicians who crawl behind the UAE, the Zionists and their contaminated U.S. should know that in Iraq there is the PMU, the resistance, an army, and men who are in no way similar to them. They are the real men. The family of bin Zayed [the ruler of the UAE] and those who surround him should be well aware of this."
A short time after he posted his tweet the Hizbullah Brigades Farsi Telegram channel released a poster which threatens to attack the UAE. It shows the Burj Khalifah tower and adjacent buildings in flames and a quote from Al-Husseini: "The bin Zayed family and its supporters should be well aware of this."
Another contention voiced is that the Iraqi government has deliberately neglected the security issue and calls to reorganize the security apparatuses and to make the struggle against ISIS their top priority, instead of guarding the American logistics support convoys.
Qais Al-Khazali, Secretary-General of the 'Asaib Ahl Al-Haq movement, calls for the reorganization of the security apparatuses "in the correct manner and to enable them to deal with security matters, and to distance them from involvement in politics or the protection of the American convoys," so that they can execute their central mission – to deal with ISIS.
Ali Al-Asadi, the head of the Al-Nujaba political council, also claims that it is the U.S. which operates ISIS in accordance with its needs. He makes a connection between the ISIS attack on Al-'Udhaim and the ISIS raid on the same day at the central Al-Hasakah prison, where thousands of ISIS operatives were incarcerated, and writes that these ISIS operations are the best evidence of the distress in which the U.S. finds itself, as the result of which it chooses to activate ISIS cells. Al-Asadi calls upon the Iraqi security apparatuses to stop dealing with whoever is attacking American convoys and to join forces against ISIS, "the occupation's handiwork." He also accuses the Iraqi government of neglecting the security issue and warns the U.S. and those subservient to it that "the jihadi fighters are well aware of what you are doing."