Dr. Hamdi Malik is an Associate Fellow with the Washington Institute, specializing in Shia militias. He is the co-founder of the Militia Spotlight platform, which offers in-depth analysis of developments related to the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria. He is the coauthor of the Institute's 2020 study "Honored, Not Contained: The Future of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces."
Badr is the wellspring of many of today's muqawama armed groups and still operates under the indirect and sometimes direct control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Name: Munadhamat Badr (Badr Organization)
Type of Movement: Political, armed (fasail) and social group. Full spectrum of kinetic military operations, information operations (media activities and propaganda), and social operations. Information operations against, and logistical support to kinetic military operations against, U.S. and Iraqi government. Domestic counter-moderate (protestor) operations and counter-U.S. operations.
History and objectives:
Formed by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in 1982-1983:
Failaq Badr (Badr Brigade) founded by IRGC as the armed wing of the IRGC-formed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI, later Islamic Supreme Council or Iraq or ISCI), drawing on Iranian-held Iraqi Shia prisoners of war (Ahrar) and anti-Saddam oppositionists (Mujahedeen).
Senior commanders in Badr included Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Hadi al-Ameri, Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, and Abu Muntadher al-Husseini.
Fought twenty-year war against the Baathist regime using guerilla and terrorist tactics. Badr member Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was accused of international terrorist attacks, and later sentenced to death in absentia by Kuwait.
Renamed Munadhamat Badr (the Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development) in 2004. Split from ISCI in 2012 to compete in Iraqi elections.
As of 2021, Badr is the largest (22-seat) party in the 48-seat Tahalof al-Fatah (Conquest Alliance).
Integrated many Badr members into the Iraqi security forces, and (after 2014) into the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Badr member Qassim al-Araji is the National Security Advisor and a former Minister of Interior.
Badr also sent groups of fighters to Syria to fight alongside the Syrian regime, as part of Badr-al-Jannah al-Askari fi Suriya (the Badr military wing in Syria), also known as Quwat al-Shahid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (the Forces of the Martyr Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr).
Chain of Command:
Badr is a large and complex organization with both a military and political wing and many sub-factions. Broadly, Badr has become deeply embedded in the Iraqi state through its electoral successes, paramilitary power, and patronage networks. Badr was the wellspring for many younger – and more radical – fasail (factions), including Kataib Hezbollah. Elements of the Organization maintain a prominent role in the muqawama. Meanwhile, Badr remains true to its roots as an Iranian proxy and continues to enjoy close institutional – and interpersonal – relations with the IRGC.
Partly financed by the Iraqi state. Badr operates at least ten brigades of the state-funded PMF, and possibly as many as seventeen. As a matter of Iraqi law, PMF brigades are Iraqi state organs. Badr military forces within the Ministry of Defense, Ministry or Interior, Popular Mobilization Forces, and other units are legally obliged to follow legal orders from Iraq’s prime minister (i.e., the commander in chief). Badr’s PMF brigades sometimes disobey the government chain of command while legally remaining organs of the Iraqi state, for instance refusing a prime ministerial order to take part in the battle of Tikrit if coalition air power supported the operation.
Direct and indirect Iranian influence and control. Badr is a walai movement, meaning that – if called upon, Badr will recognize Iran’s Supreme Leader as a higher authority than Iraq’s prime minister (i.e., the commander in chief). As a young commander fighting on Iran’s side, Hadi al-Ameri is on record as stating: “we are with the Imam [Khomeini]…if our Imam says war then we say its war, If Imam says peace then its peace… Now we know the Imam represents Islam…” The Badr military wing in Syria is directly commanded by the IRGC.
United States federal courts have found that Iran provides material support for the Badr Organization, and that Iran has directly sponsored the Badr Organization's activities in Iraq, including the gathering of intelligence and acts of sabotage and subversion in the Shia South of Iraq. (See, for example, W.A. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 427 F. Supp. 3d. 117, 125-127, & 134 (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 2019)).
Internal leadership. Badr has a secretary general (Hadi al-Ameri) and a shura council that comprises Hadi al-Ameri; National Security Advisor Qassim al-Araji; Mohammed al-Ghabban; Abu Muntadher al-Husseini; and Abu Ali al-Basri.
PMF. Badr is affiliated with most PMF member units and organizations and can be counted upon to give them mutual support if they are threatened.
Muqawama. Badr is a component of the al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance) in Iraq and seeks the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from the region. Badr iconography mirrors broader patterns and themes within the muqawama. In recent years, Badr has adopted a less overt position within the wider muqawama. Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and Harakat al-Nujaba, and other groups are relatively open about their efforts in attacking the U.S. and allies; by contrast Badr distances itself publicly from such actions. Nevertheless, muqawama media channels frequently place Badr and its leadership in the same categories and references as more openly radical fasail.
In 2019, Tasnim (an IRGC-affiliated news agency) reported on the Iraqi muqawama response to the U.S. designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization under the title “the Iraqi muqawama fasail denounce the designation of the IRGC as an FTO”. The only Iraqi statement in the article came from Abu Farqad al-Sadawi, the head of Badr’s office in Najaf, suggesting the IRGC’s news agency understands Badr to be a part of (and able to speak for) the wider muqawama.
Badr has not publicly claimed that it is part of the Tansiqiya (muqawama coordinating committee) but muqawama media frequently refer to Badr alongside other core muqawama fasail (factions). The Tansiqiya committee provides loose coordination for muqawama activities, and provides a point of contact for coordination between militia leadership and the IRGC. Badr’s size, prominence, and standing within the muqawama mean it is more likely than not that Badr has representation on the committee and some reporting indicates Badr's Hadi al-Ameri became the elder leader within the Tansiqiya in June 2021.
IRGC. Badr is a member of the Axis of Resistance led by IRGC. Badr has enjoyed a close relationship with the IRGC since the former’s founding.
KH and KSS. Many former Badr members are senior officials in U.S.-designated terrorist group Kataib Hezbollah and in Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. Examples include Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (deceased) and Abu Fadak al-Muhamadawi, the current operational head of the PMF and a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander, and Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, founder of KSS.
Badr has a military wing (Al-Jannah al-Askari li Munadhamat Badr). Badr controls the state-funded 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 27th Brigades of the PMF, and appears to have strong influence over the 16th, 30th, 36th, 50th, 52nd, 53rd. 55th and 110th Brigades of the PMF.
Badr military wing in Syria.
Qanat al-Ghadeer television channel.
Badr’s official website is #http://badr.iq/# (domain inactive) and its official global news website is Wakalat Badr al-Akhbariya (Badr News Agency) (domain active).
Badr’s official Telegram channel is Manasat Baa (“B Platform”), launched in June 2021. It is possible use of the letter “Baa” (for Badr) was inspired by Kataib Hezbollah’s “Kaf” (K) media channels.
Manasat Baa also runs Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok accounts.
The platform’s description on Facebook describes itself as “An electronic platform interested in all the activities of Badr, the Fasail, and the Muqawama al-Islamiyya in Iraq”. The Telegram bio reads: “an electronic platform interested in all the activities of Badr and the Islamic Muqawama in Iraq.”
These platforms have tens of thousands of followers.
Badr has dozens of social media accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, many of which are administrated by and affiliated with Badr’s media center, “al-Markaz al-I’ami li Munadhamat Badr”, and office branches across Iraq’s cities.
The Badr Islamic Cultural Center (Markaz Badr al-Thaqafi al-Islami). This organization includes a dedicated local TV channel.
Wilaya Youth Gathering (Tajamo Shabab al-Wilaya), Badr’s youth organization.