Hamdi Malik is an Associate Fellow with the Washington Institute, specializing in Shia militias. He earned his doctorate at the school of social, political and global studies, Keele University. He is a 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."
Type of movement: Cyber facade group. Propaganda social media channel. Nonviolent support to kinetic military and paramilitary activities. Counter-U.S., Gulf state, and Iraqi moderate operations.
History and objectives:
FFE was formed on January 29, 2020. The group “takes it upon itself to defend the religion [Shia Islam] and its historic and contemporary leaders in the electronic realm,” according to the introduction provided on the FFE Telegram channel.
FFE’s primary claimed activities and methods include attacking social media accounts/websites belonging to enemies of the muqawama (resistance).
FFE’s objectives include:
Hacking enemy websites/social media accounts.
Disrupting opponents’ social media accounts via mass reporting of possible violation of community guidelines with the intention of getting these accounts shut down.
Providing support and training to muqawama-affiliated social media accounts to guard against hostile cyberattacks
Campaigning to lift restrictions on muqawama social media accounts suspended due to violation of community guidelines.
Recruiting tech-savvy young people to expand hacking campaigns via FFE bots.
FFE’s secondary objectives include:
Spreading disinformation, including to discredit the Iraqi government.
Inciting muqawama supporters and other Iraqis against any parties or individuals deemed anti-muqawama.
Propagating anti-U.S. sentiment.
Promoting and disseminating real and fake news about kinetic operations.
Promoting muqawama street vigilante groups.
Chain of command:
The preponderance of the evidence indicates that FFE is controlled by Kataib Hezbollah (KH). This is based on analysis of media links between FFE and other KH-run channels, particularly Unit 10,000.
Unit 10,000. Based on a message by Unit 10,000 posted on November 5, 2020, “FFE is Unit 10,000’s electronic strike brigade.”
Fariq Fatemiyoun al-Maydani (FFM) (Fatemiyoun Field Squad). FFE runs this sister group, which provides manpower for vigilante operations conducted by Raba Allah and other groups, such as burning the offices of satellite television networks and political parties. FFM also actively participates in smear and intimidation campaigns against activists, media personalities, and politicians. FFM activities remain secondary to FFE’s cyber operations.