New Iraqi Group Claims Responsibility For Attack On Saudi Arabia, Threatens Dubai

January 25, 2021

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 23, 2021, the Saudi-led Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, announced that it had attacked and destroyed a "hostile aerial target" that was proceeding in the direction of Riyadh. The internet site of the Saudi Al-Hadath state-owned TV channel reported that Saudi Arabia's air defense systems had intercepted a missile that the Houthis had launched at Riyadh.[1]

The Houthi Ansar Allah organization rushed to deny the Saudi accusation. The spokesman for the armed forces of the Yahya Saree organization stressed that "the Yemenite forces did not perpetrate any offensive action against the countries of aggression in the last 24 hours." He clarified that the movement is proud of every action it undertakes and assumes responsibility for it, adding that, "It is our natural and legitimate right to respond to the countries of aggression as long as the siege and the aggression continue."[2]

It is entirely possible that the swift denial from the Houthis was the result of reports about the intention of the new American administration headed by Joe Biden to cancel the decision of the Trump administration to add the organization to the list of U.S. designated terror organizations.

Several hours later, a group which was previously unknown, called "Al-Wa'd Al-Haqq (The Just Promise) Brigades – Sons of the Arabian Peninsula," published a statement in which it claimed responsibility for the attack in Saudi Arabia, in revenge, it said, for the attack perpetrated by the Islamic State (ISIS) on January 21, 2021, in the center of Baghdad in which dozens of people were killed.[3] Contrary to the statement from the Saudi-led coalition, the attack, according to this group, was carried out with drones.

The statement was published on the group's Telegram channel which was opened on the day of the attack and has since garnered almost 4,000 subscribers.

The new group is probably affiliated with the pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias in Iraq. The statement was published on Telegram channels which support these militias which praised the statement and the attack. Some channels maintained that the attack was perpetrated from Iraqi territory.

A claim of responsibility for attacks from a new group is a familiar Iranian tactic. About two months after the killings of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy chairman of Al-Hashd Al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Units, PMU), new, mostly-Shi'ite groups began to appear, which claimed responsibility for attacks against American forces in Iraq.[4] However, this is the first time that such a group has claimed responsibility for an attack outside Iraq.

The group's statement reads: "The Arabs in the Gulf continue with their crimes against the people of the region and continue to support ISIS and the takfir gangs of criminals who have spilled so much blood of the innocent. In light of all this, the Sons of the Arabian Peninsula are keeping their promise and launched drones of terror at the kingdom of the Saudi family and hit their stronghold at the Al-Yamamah Palace and other targets in Riyadh. We are announcing that the transfer of the balance of terror to inside the country that is ruled by the sheikhs has begun, in revenge for the blood of the martyrs. If [Muhammad] Bin Salman [Saudi Crown Prince] and [Mohammed] bin Zayed [Al Nahyan Crown Prince of the UAE] continue with their crimes, the next attack will be against the nests of evil in Dubai, with Allah's help."[5]

Following publication of the statement and of reports of a large explosion in the sky above Riyadh, the Sabereen News Telegram channel, which supports the pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias, posted the following: "This means that the drones took off from Iraqi territory."[6]

Several minutes later the Telegram channel posted another message: "The principle of the international balance of deterrence is the best way to ensure the security of the country [Iraq], which did not exist in the past." The message was posted with the hashtag #wewillattackRiyadhfromIraqeveryday.[7]

The channel claims that the attack was carried out by an "Iraqi technical team to avenge the fallen" in Baghdad. It also states that the Saudi media tried for an entire day to hide the report about the drone attack and added, "Every attack by ISIS will be met with a counter [attack] on your territory and in the heart of Riyadh."[8]

A post on the Fatemiyoun Electronic Team Telegram channel also says that the group attacked the "Saudi kingdom of evil with drones which took off from Iraq" in response to the latest terror attacks.[9]

Senior Member Of Hizbullah Brigades: We Welcome The Operation; Call For More Attacks Like These

Abu Ali Al-Askary, a senior member of the Hizbullah Brigades, praised the group's operation. In a statement published on his Telegram channel, following the funerals of 11 members of PMU who were killed in the ISIS attack in the Salah Al-Din Governorate in Iraq on January 23, he blamed Israel, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for the ISIS attacks in Iraq and called for a response against "the source of the fire." He added, "We take this opportunity to praise the Sons of the Arabian Peninsula the Al-Wa'd Al-Haqq Brigades and welcome the attack on the nest of bin Salman. We advise the brothers the jihadi fighters in Iraq and the region to continue on this path…"[10]  


[1], January 23, 2021.

[2], January 23, 2021.

[3] For more information about the ISIS claim of responsibility, see MEMRI JTTM Report: ISIS Claims Double Suicide Bombing In Baghdad, January 22, 2021; it should be noted that before ISIS officially claimed responsibility, elements among the Iraqi pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias stated that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. were the brains behind the attack and that the Iraq government had failed to defend the security of the country. For more information see MEMRI JTTM Report: Iran-Backed Militias Accuse Saudi Arabia, New U.S. Administration Of Planning Baghdad Bombings, Blame Iraqi Security For Negligence, Iraqi Intelligence For Protecting U.S. Interests, January 21, 2021.

[5], January 23, 2021.

[6], January 23, 2021.

[7], January 23, 2021.

[8], January 23, 2021.

[9], January 23, 2021.

[10], January 24, 2021.

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