Sources close to PMU reveal role of Badr, AAH and pro-Iranian groups in suppressing Iraqi protests
Excerpts from the testimony of ‘Mohammed,’ an individual close to the PMU
Interviewed by Kareem Botane
October 27, 2019
Can you describe what is happening and the role of Saraya al-Salam
“What is happening in the south is that Saraya Al-Salam (Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia) is with the protestors and they come out to participate in the demonstrations in an organized way but without arms. They came out to help protestors. They call themselves the Al-Khadamat - Services."
Protesters have targeted officers of different political parties in early October and again between October 25 and today?
"The demonstrators are not systematically targeting any party's bases. But, in Amara, after the Al-Awfiya organization which is part of Asaib Ahl al- Haq killed demonstrators on October 1st, and then AAH were targeted, and an AAH member [Wisam al-Alawi] killed by the demonstrators."
"Since the beginning of 2009 until today, AAH have maintained military training facilities in Iran and Iraq. They were recruiting young Iraqi people and each trainee fighter was getting $2,000-$4,000 based on their location. Later, the organization decreased the salaries to $600-$700 per month due to the sanctions on Iran.”
“The Badr organization is currently working though an extensive network of front organizations. In a large swathe of southern Iraq, local companies and organizations cannot work if they are not cooperating with Badr by giving them a share of their business or of its profits."
"They are also active as a political organization in the south . The Aata Institute, a front for Badr, is engaged in purchasing and occupying real estate using donations and offering this to their supporters."
"In addition, the organization, calling itself the ‘Mujahidin,’ is active in media campaigns and humanitarian activities. In this framework, campaigns with names such as the Exsa campaign, the martyrs’ families campaign and the we will not forget you campaign have taken place. . All these campaigns Badr organized and supported under the name of (Al-Mujahidin)."
How is Badr linked to the Iraqi Security Forces and the Interior Ministry, does this play a role in the protests?
"Many serving ISF officers today are Badr members, and have undergone additional military training and ideological lectures in the Badr framework before becoming part of the official military system. Examples from among senior officers are, Montather al Husssani and Abu Thergham of the federal police."
"Badr have a practice of taking their young people for travel to Iran, where they put them under extensive training on ideology and intellectual principles that their militia based on. The number of these young exceed has exceeded 1500 participants over the last two years."
"Most of these young people are poor and have finished high school. They don't have the money to travel or even to marry, so they take advantage of their situation to recruit them. These young people will be used as militants and propagandists later."
How has Badr sought to influence the demonstrations?
"There were many Badr members taking part in the demonstrations at the beginning. The organization wanted to try and drive and manipulate the demonstrations for its own political agenda. At the same time, Badr was also an active participant in shooting at demonstrators as part of the larger PMU mobilization against them. This led to anger on the part of Badr members taking part in the protests. At the present time, ‘Haiyer’, a senior officer of Badr’s 44th Brigade and two other officials who took part in the demonstrations have disappeared. Other Badr members who took part in the protests have also been detained. ‘Haiyer’ was in the head of protest in 1st and 2nd of October There is a big gap between the head and other sections of PMU, but no one talks about it. So what is happening whenever Falah al-Fayad doesn’t like someone, he uses the intelligence section to move against him, to humiliate them and create fear so that no one will go against him."
Badr is active in the area of the Saudi border with Iraq. They are in Fallujah, Najaf, and most of the area near to the border. Thus, they are able to carry out smuggling activities there with the intention of agitating among Shia population in KSA.
The number of those killed in Iraq's demonstrations rose on October 26.
According to the High Commission for Human Rights the following figures were reported
Dhi Qar (15)
The number of wounded to 2592 demonstrators and security forces as follows:
Baghdad Governorate (1794)
Dhi Qar Governorate (176?)
Wasit Governorate (10)
Muthanna Governorate (151)
Basra Governorate (301)
Diwaniyah Governorate (119)
Maysan Governorate (110)
Karbala Governorate (349). * Most of them were discharged from hospitals after receiving treatment.
The number of detainees so far is 3 people specifically for burning in Babil governorate. Other figures were not available
Burning and damage has been recorded to 83 government buildings and party headquarters in the governorates of Diwaniya, Missan, Wasit, Dhi Qar, Basra, Muthanna, Babylon and Karbala.
Details of protests from October 25-29
Photos obtained by MECRA also show Badr and AAH snipers firing on crowds on October 10 in Maysan. This confirms the source's interview above and the data presented. In Maysan protesters attacked the Dawa party headquarters, showing anger at Nouri al-Maliki, the former Prime Minister. They also targeted his son-in-law, Abu Rehab in Tuwaireej district in Babil province. Maliki family members were forced to flee. In Kut the headquarters of Badr was burned.
In Maysan Badr snipers on the roof of their headquarters and led by Karim Aliwi Jahosh al-Azirawi allegedly targeted protesters.
In Wasit headquarters of parties were burned as well as book written by Kazem Sayadi.
The provincial council building of Dhi Qar was burned. In Muthanna one person was killed during an attempt to burn a party office. The Muthanna elections commission building was also attacked.
In Basra the attempt to burn a building led to suffocation and people were taken to hospital by the army.
Demonstrators also blocked the road from Basra to Baghdad.
On October 26 The headquarters of Badr and Asaib in Amara city were attacked. The offices of AAH was also burned in Maysan.
Amid allegations by the PMU's Hadi al-Amiri, AAH's Qais Khazali and Kataib Hezbollah's Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis that the protests were driven by the US and Israel, demonstrators in Basra wrote "no Iran no israel no Khamenei."
On October 28 some of the worst clashes took place in Karbala. This came in the context of days of unrest.The government, which had called a curfew, appeared out of control as protesters stormed the Iranian consulate on October 26 and raised the Iraqi flag.