London, Asharq Al-Awsat-Middle East observers often confuse the numerous off-shoots of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group namely the Hezbollah Vanguards in Iraq, Hezbollah [of Lebanon], and the Hezbollah Brigades.
The Hezbollah Vanguards is a group that has existed in the Al-Ahwar areas in southern Iraq, under the leadership of Abu-Hatim al-Muhammadawi, who was named amir [prince] of Al-Ahwar, since former President Saddam Hussein was in power. This group carried out many military operations against the former regime’s agencies. Al-Muhammadawi was elected as member of the Governing Council after the regime was changed. It is known that this group receives no aid from abroad and has no relations with Iran. In fact, it is opposed to the Iranian interference in Iraq.
After the regime fell and the Al-Sadr Trend became major players in the Iraqi political spectrum, a group from within the Al-Sadr Trend that was affiliated with Iran emerged. Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, member of the Iraqi House of Representatives for the Unified Iraqi Coalition, which is led by Abdulaziz al-Hakim, organized and trained this group. Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis fled to Iran because he was pursued by the US forces. Abu-Sajjad helped Al-Muhandis in training the group.
According to a Shi’i expert specialized in the affairs of Shi’i political movements in Al-Najaf, Al-Muhandis trained members of this wing that carried the name “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq” in the desert of Al-Kufah.
The expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons explains: “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq is a copy of the experience of Hezbollah in Lebanon. There was a group within Hezbollah in Lebanon that had the same or similar name.”
He adds: “It is they (Hezbollah) who gave Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq the plans to abduct Western persons, exactly the way Hezbollah in Lebanon did during the process of its formation. Most members of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq have been trained in Lebanon.”
The expert points out: “Lebanese Hezbollah sought to establish a base or an arm in Iraq. So, it found the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq members as its representatives. Most members of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq very often travel between Iraq and Lebanon. The members of this group receive Iranian aid by way of Hezbollah.”
The Shi’i went on to say: “The Al-Sadr Trend split into several wings all of which operated in the name of the Al-Sadr Trend even though they had their own titles. Some members of the Al-Sadr Trend were secretly associated with the US forces when these forces reached the Al-Najaf City borders. They worked with these forces and uncovered for them many members and plans of the trend in exchange for a large financial aid.”
He adds: “However, the Al-Sadr Trend discovered and expelled some of them from its organizations, while some others remain associated with the US forces. This was evident when the US forces carried out many operations against Al-Thawrah (Al-Sadr) City in the past two years and targeted certain leading members of the trend.”
The expert of Shi’i political affairs says: “Some members of the Al-Sadr Trend wanted to remain in the middle without taking an extreme line or organizing any military operations. This wing was led by Sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji who is regarded as a moderate and nationalist.”
He adds: “Al-Darraji is known for being a nationalist Arab and opposed to Iran. In fact, he rejected a lot of Iranian offers and temptations and, therefore, enjoyed great popularity in the Al-Thawrah City until the US forces were unfairly given information on him. Thus, he was arrested, and the pro-Iran wing became free to move as a result.”
The Shi’i expert notes: “A wing in the Al-Sadr Trend sought to establish direct ties with Iran without a mediator. So, it established a connection through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
He adds: “The members of this wing were trained by Ittila’at (the Iranian Intelligence Service) and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in camps that were previously allocated to the [Shi’i] Badr Force. The members of this wing were specialized in planting explosive charges and in bombings. They called themselves the Hezbollah Brigades.”
Talking about Ali Musa Daqduq, a leading Hezbollah figure, who was arrested along with Qays al-Khaz’ali two years ago, the expert of Shi’i political affairs said: “It was Daqduq who oversaw the abduction of the British hostages, with help from Qays al-Khaz’ali.”
He added: “Al-Khaz’ali was originally wanted by the judicial authorities for his involvement in the killing of Sayyid Abdul-Majid al-Khoei in Al-Najaf in April 2003.”
Meanwhile, an Iraqi Shi’i leader who refused to identify himself asserted: “Daqduq is one of the most dangerous leaders in Hezbollah.”
He added: “Daqduq was groomed to lead the Iranian wing in the Al-Sadr trend, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and to represent Lebanese Hezbollah in Iraq. And he was behind qualitative bombing operations in Iraq.”