Qais Khazali, secretary-general of the Iraqi Shiite Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq militia, recently threatened the U.S., saying: "If you impose yourself upon us, causing casualties among the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militia, we will deal with you as if these are intentional strikes." When challenged by the interviewer, he said: "We have weapons that could [hit them] in the sky, and they have a presence on the ground." He was speaking in a June 2 interview with the Iraqi Al-Afaq TV channel.
Qais Khazali: "In my opinion, the Israel lobby controls American decision-making. It has a hold on the political, economic, media and military junctions. If the (American) prime minister (sic) plays by the rules, he is given some room to maneuver, but if he crosses the line, he is stopped. In my opinion, Jimmy Carter was assassinated (sic) because he crossed the line on the Palestinian Issue."
Interviewer: "You said that if there is a case of friendly fire by coalition airplanes, the Americans will face 'immeasurable consequences.'"
Khazali: "This is an important issue. Let me phrase what I mean differently. Oh United States of America, if we were to cooperate in any ground operation – even though we reject your participation in military operations that cannot be conducted without coordination... If you impose yourself upon us, causing casualties among the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militia, we will deal with you as if these are intentional strikes. I will give you the details later."
Interviewer: "What would you do in such a case?"
Khazali: "There's no need to go into details now."
Interviewer: "(The Americans) are not on the ground, so what can you do? You have no anti-aircraft capabilities, so what can you possibly do?"
Khazali: "Are you goading me?"
Interviewer: "Not at all. But what can you possibly do? You don't have the weapons, so what can you do against an F-16?"
Khazali: "First of all, we have..."
Interviewer: "What you have is limited to ground warfare."
Khazali: "We can get hold of surface-to-air missiles. I'm not saying that we have them, but we can get hold of them. Secondly, (the Americans) are present on the ground. We have weapons that could (hit them) in the sky and they have a presence on the ground. From time to time, we receive information about American efforts to target field commanders of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi. Whenever I receive such information, I verify it. They are playing with fire. Up until now, we have not crossed any political or diplomatic red lines. We have not endangered American interests, and I advise them to refrain from crossing any red lines and from playing with fire, because any action has a reaction. "