Hamdi Malik is an Associate Fellow with the Washington Institute, specializing in Shia militias. Hamdi is the coauthor of the Institute's 2020 study "Honored, Not Contained: The Future of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces."
Unit 10,000 is Kataib Hezbollah's premier online facade group, specializing in the publication of muqawama propaganda and the development of "electronic armies" capable of hacking, information operations and open source intelligence gathering.
Name: Al-Wehda 10000 (Unit 10,000).
Type of Movement: (Media) facade for Kataib Hezbollah (KH). Providing training for non-kinetic activities/ information operations focus. Propaganda social media channel. Non-lethal / non-violent support to kinetic military, kinetic paramilitary.
History and objectives:
Unit 10,000 is a highly influential Telegram channel with thousands of subscribed followers. The account was, at various points in 2020 and 2021, among the most influential media outlets connected to the muqawama, with apparent insider information and advance warning of events and attacks.
The channel was created in December 2016 as a personal channel posting non-muqawama content. On April 29, 2020 the first muqawama related message was posted. The account name was likely changed to Unit 10,000 around this time.
Unit 10,000 objectives include providing training for muqawama groups to engage in a variety of activities. The training courses include:
Management of propaganda channels
Open source intelligence gathering, including Geographic Information Systems
Manufacturing and using quadcopter or fix wing drones'
Self-defence and fighting system, mainly Krav Maga.
Unit 10,000 mainly uses disinformation in its information operations. It does not post as frequently as some other channels such as Sabereen News, but when it is engaged in disinformation it leads other muqawama propaganda channels in spreading fake news. Other muqawama channels appear to respect Unit 10,000 and its creator(s) and refer to the channel as an “intelligence” unit.
In 2020, the account appeared to enjoy significant insider information, and appears to have played a support role to real kinetic operations by disseminating news of attacks, and displayed a close affinity with Kataib Hezbollah. From around February 2021 onwards, the channel took on a propaganda and informational role more similar to that of Sabereen News’. Unit 10,000 has been the source, or a key propagator of fake attacks and campaigns. Its role as a communicator of “insider” Kataib Hezbollah information has been taken up by a number of smaller accounts (the timing of the appearance of these accounts and their posting style raises the possibility that the creator(s) of Unit 10,000 run the smaller accounts as lower-profile satellites for carrying out informational tasks that Unit 10,000 is now too prominent and well-observed to achieve.
Chain of Command:
Preponderance of evidence indicates that Unit 10,000 is controlled by Kataib Hezbollah. This is based on based on analysis of media linkages between Unit 10,000 and other KH-run channels. KH channels will on occasion operate together in a coordinated manner. Alternately, sometimes KH channels will collectively remain silent on issues covered extensively by other muqawama media. Unit 10,000 consistently operates in-line with these other KH accounts. Unit 10,000 also champions KH-affiliated groups over groups believed to be affiliated with other major militias. For example, Unit 10,000 rarely mentions Ashab al-Kahf (which is controlled by Asaib Ahl al-Haq), but has championed the KH-controlled Qasem al-Jabbarin on dozens of occasions.
Unit 10,000 supports a few groups engaged in cyber-attacks such as:
In contrast, Unit 10,000 has had a tumultuous relationship with Sabereen News (which is controlled by Asaib Ahl al-Haq). In October 2020, Sabereen and Unit 10,000 announced a partnership. This partnership broke apart between November 2020 and January 2021 during an apparent rift within the muqawama over strategy towards coalition forces. During this time the channels appeared to criticize one another in various posts. From January 2021 onwards, the relationship has healed, though the two channels remain distinct.
Unit 10,000 operates its own media channel on Telegram.