Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

Senior Iraqi militia commanders arrested on corruption charges

The arrest of senior leaders from an Iran-backed Shiite militia is part of a plan to restructure Iraq's state-sanctioned Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella group of paramilitaries that is mainly made up of Iraqi Shiite militias, according to an official close to the PMF.

Security forces affiliated to the PMF arrested Hamid Al Jazairi, the former deputy commander of Al Khorasani Brigades along with more than a dozen of his followers on Sunday.

The next day, the group’s commander Ali Al Yassiri was also arrested.
Since taking office in May, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has been trying to rein in militias backed by Tehran, but has failed. In one incident, the country's counter-terrorism forces arrested 14 militiamen for planning a rocket attack on Baghdad's Green Zone, but they were released days later and the case against them dropped.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the PMF said it had closed down six military and administrative offices in Baghdad and arrested a number of people for “violating laws and regulations”.

It did not name those arrested or give more details.

“It is an attempt to rearrange the house from inside,” the official close to the PMF said.

“It is also designed to scare others who exploit the Hashed name for their own benefit,” he added, using the Arabic name for the PMF.

The arrested leaders have been accused of corruption and are now under investigation, he said.

He was unable to provide further details on the charges.

When Iraqi security forces crumbled in mid-2014 as ISIS swept through northern and western Iraq, Shiite volunteers and militias answered a call from the country’s influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, to join the fight.

Al Khorasani Brigades, which was established in 2013 to fight in Syria in support of the Assad regime, was among the Iran-backed Shiite militias to join the PMF.

When major military operations ended and ISIS was declared defeated in late 2017, many Shiite militias scrambled to win lucrative government reconstruction deals in the liberated areas, many of which lay in ruins.