Iran-Backed Ashab Al-Kahf Group Threatens To Down U.S., Israeli Aircraft With Stinger Missiles

April 3, 2023

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here. 

In early April 2023, the Iran-backed Iraqi militia Ashab Al-Kahf posted a series of messages on its Telegram channel in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, threatening the use of anti-aircraft Stinger missiles against "foreign armies" in Iraq and the surrounding region. Additional channels affiliated with Iran-backed militias responded by posting similar threats. One of these indicated that the Iraqi Al-Nujaba Movement is behind these threats.

The following is a review of the threatening posts:

The group's Telegram channel posted a short video clip and a photograph of an American Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter and another helicopter in the skies above Iraq, with the following captions:

"CH 47 [Chinook] VS Stinger"

"May the eyes of the cowards never rest. Haven't you heard? 'The ultimate outcome belongs [only] to the righteous.'" (Quran 11:49)

"Everyone should know and everyone means everyone that we are daring. We did not hesitate in the past and we will not hesitate in the future, if Allah so wishes."

The channel also posted the group's logo alongside a Stinger missile with the caption, "Stinger searching…"[1]

In early April, the channel posted short messages which read:

In Hebrew "Very soon."

In English "Foreign armies are not welcome in Iraq and the region. Your expulsion is near."

In Arabic "To limit the bloodshed, the intelligence assessment officers must understand that the foreign armies are not welcome in Iraq and the region. Everything has changed."[2]

On April 3, 2023, the Ashab Al-Kahf Telegram channel published three additional posts which bear the words, "Very soon," in Hebrew and add in Arabic, "Israel is at the mercy of the fire of the Shi'ites."[3]

Following the threats from Ashab Al-Kahf, on April 3, 2023, the Murad Telegram channel, which supports Iran-backed militias in Iraq, published a poster depicting a corkboard with photographs of American soldiers, a map of Iraq, and a photograph of former U.S. President Donald Trump pinned to it. The accompanying caption reads, "CH 47 VS Stinger."[4]

Another Telegram channel affiliated with Iran-backed militias in Iraq published technical details about the Stinger missile.[5]

Meanwhile, another channel that supports the Iran-backed Hizbullah Brigades, also responded to the threats published by Ashab Al-Kahf with a post which reads, "The [Iraqi] Al-Nujaba Movement threatens American combat aircraft in western Asia."[6] The post appears to assume that there is a relationship between Ashab Al-Kahf and the Iraqi Al-Nujaba Movement.

It is notable that the Iran-backed Shi'ite militias in Iraq issued threats against the U.S. forces there in late 2021, when they warned that they would start a "war" if those forces did not withdraw from the country by midnight on December 31, 2021.[7]

Furthermore, an isolated report in August 2022 indicated that attempts might be made by those militias to acquire advanced American weapons, including Stinger missiles, from elements on the dark web that specialize in the illegal trafficking of weapons.[8]



[1] Telegram, April 2023.

[2] Telegram, April 2023.

[3] Telegram, April 2023.

[4] Telegram, April 2023.

[5] Telegram, April 2023 .

[6] Telegram, April 2023.

[8] See MEMRI JTTM Report: Overview Of Jihadi Fundraising Campaigns In 2022, November 1, 2022.

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