After pressure by al-Sistani, senior Kata’ib Hezbollah leaders indicted on racketeering charges

After pressure by al-Sistani, senior Kata’ib Hezbollah leaders indicted on racketeering charges

Various senior leaders of Kata’ib Hezbollah were issued arrest warrants on Aug. 29 for their part in an extensive rackeeterring scheme that seized property from Baghdad residents, according to credible Kurdistan 24 sources.

Recently, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani held a town hall meeting, where various residents Al-Jadriyah neighborhood of Baghdad came forward to complain on alleged thefts they had experienced from militias belonging to the Coordination Framework.

Michael Knights and Amir al-Kaabi of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy corroborated these findings in their report that describes how senior members of various Coordination Framework factions have illegally seized property in Al-Jadriyah.

Al-Sistani has long coerced his supporters among the various Sadrist factions to pay a khum, or a religious tax, to the cleric’s organizations. Yet the same supporters fell victim to wide-ranging land seizures by militias supported by al-Sistani himself.

After the embarrassing public debacle, al-Sistani promptly ordered Prime Minister al-Sudani to take legal action against the perpetrators, and on Aug. 29, the Central Court in the Rusafa district issued arrest warrants for six persons. Four of these individuals, Safa al-Lami, Salman al-Helo, Waleed al-Kubaisi, and Thaya al-Helfi, all have reputed ties to Kata’ib Hezbollah, a prominent faction within the Coordination Framework.

The arrest warrants have revealed cracks among the Framework’s Shia factions. Specifically, they have largely marginalized Kata’ib Hezbollah, with former PM Nouri al-Maliki seizing the opportunity to further the interests of his own Islamic Dawa Party by praising the arrests.

Yet the same opportune leaders from other powerful factions, like Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr organization, are cautious of overstepping their boundaries, as they rely on their illicit gains from the Al-Jadriyah land seizures to further their own interests.

Kata’ib Hezbollah shares close ties with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), whose former commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, belonged to the faction. On Jan. 3, 2020, al-Muhandis, was killed alongside Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani after being struck by an American airstrike.

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