Telegram Channels Affiliated With Iran-Backed Ashab Al-Kahf Release Posters Threatening U.S. Forces In Iraq

June 5, 2023

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In recent days, several Telegram channels affiliated with the Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia Ashab Al-Kahf [People of the Cave] have released posters threatening U.S. forces in the country. Quoting Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) deputy leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who was assassinated by the U.S. in 2020 together with Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, the posters claim America is weaker than it appears and is the source of evil and destruction in the world.

On May 31, 2023, the Al-Qiddisoun [Saints] Telegram channel shared a poster showing Al-Muhandis next to an Ashab Al-Kahf missile flying through the air, and what appears to be an American military base in the background. The poster is captioned with a quote from Al-Muhandis: "We will not let them stay." The channel commented: "We have a role model in the martyr of the resistance, the commander Al-Muhandis."[1]

On the following day, the channel published a poster depicting Iranian leader Ali Khamenei delivering a speech alongside an image of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq seen through crosshairs. The accompanying post quotes Khamenei: "Even the presence of one American in Iraq is too much."[2]

An unofficial Telegram channel affiliated with Ashab Al-Kahf published a 20-second GIF on June 2, containing a photo of a bombing the group carried out on a U.S. military convoy in Iraq, along with the caption: "The time has come to break the bones of the enemy soldiers." English text accompanying the post contains a virtually identical message: "The time has come to break the bones of the occupation soldiers."[3]

Ashab Al-Kahf's official channel published a poster on June 3 depicting the American flag with its red stripes dripping blood. On the poster is the English word "terrorism" and the Arabic-language text "America is the source of destruction." The poster is captioned with a quote by Khamenei: "America is the one behind most evil and [responsible for] provoking wars and massacres in our region and in many regions of the world."[4]

On the same day, an unofficial Ashab Al-Kahf channel published a poster depicting an SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher, with the group's logo superimposed on it, aimed at a U.S. military position. Mentioning Hussam Al-Hamidawi, a fighter for the Iraqi Hizbullah Brigades who was killed in 2008, the Telegram post states: "I do not think that the American has forgotten Hussam Al-Hamidawi. Before we take some time off, we wanted to say that the brothers of the martyr Hussam Al-Hamidawi are inside Al-Kahf's tent."[5]

The channel published another poster showing Khamenei on the backdrop of a burning White House. The accompanying text quotes the Iranian leader: "Some see America as a power which cannot be harmed, but this state is [actually] very fragile and weak."[6]

Threats to the American soldiers remaining in Iraq, ostensibly in advisory and assistance roles, have intensified since U.S. ambassador Alina L. Romanowski stated on May 16 that the U.S. has no intention of leaving Iraq – despite the expiration of their combat mission at the end of 2021 – and  following reports of additional U.S. troops arriving at the Ayn Al Asad airbase in Iraq's Al-Anbar governorate and U.S. plans to build a second base in the same governorate.[7] A few days ago, two new groups declared their readiness to launch attacks on the American troops in Iraq, but have yet to claim any operations.[8]


[1] Telegram, May 31, 2023.

[2] Telegram, June 1, 2023.

[3] Telegram, June 2, 2023.

[4] Telegram, June 3, 2023.

[5] Telegram, June 3, 2023.

[6] Telegram, June 3, 2023.

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