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Qayis al-Khazali Papers – AEI

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The Qayis al-Khazali Papers

Qayis al-Khazali rose to prominence amongst Iraqi Shia during his religious training in the Hawza (the theological seminaries) of Najaf. He was a devoted student of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, the father of Muqtada al-Sadr, until Muhammad Sadiq’s execution by Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1980. When coalition forces overthrew Saddam, Khazali became one of the founding members of the Office of the Martyr Sadr (OMS), and an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr in his resistance to the US occupation. Khazali became one of OMS’ most powerful members, in charge of financing, construction and operation of all the OMS offices in Iraq, and weapons smuggling from Iran. However, his relationship with Sadr began to deteriorate and he eventually broke away from the Sadrist trend altogether. He founded his own “Special Group,” Asaib Ahl al-Haqq (the League of the Righteous), to pursue a more violent opposition to the United States and so was responsible for carrying out attacks on American soldiers.

British SAS operatives captured Khazali on 20th March 2007. The declassified reports of his interrogations below provide an insight into the operations and organization of the Sadr trend, the Special Groups, and the Iranian network that supported them both. Khazali also paints a fascinating picture of the fractured nature of anti-American Shia forces in Iraq. He describes not only the rivalries between different groups, such as the Sadr trend, the Special Forces, and the Badr movement; but also the power struggles within the Sadr trend itself. Muqtada al-Sadr is depicted as a paranoid leader, valuing loyalty over ability, and replacing anyone, including Khazali himself, who became powerful enough to challenge him. Khazali also details the methods of Iran’s support for anti-American forces, revealing the existence of Iranian training camps for Iraqi militia in Iran, as well as Iranian funding for the Sadr trend. As the OMS official responsible for smuggling weapons from Iran, Khazali also provides a detailed description of how Iran smuggled weapons into Iraq to aid anti-American forces.

Khazali was released from custody in 2010, in exchange for Peter Moore, a British computer consultant. He continues to lead the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which has grown into an Iranian backed political party and militia in Iraq. The interrogation reports below provide an essential insight into Iraq under US occupation and are a must-read for anyone interested in anti-American factions in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, or Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs.

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