Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 5 - Kata’ib Hizballah (KH)

Aka Hizballah Brigades; Hizballah Brigades in Iraq; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq; Kata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hezbollah; Khata’ib Hizballah; Khattab Hezballah; Hizballah Brigades-Iraq of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Kata’ib Hizballah Fi al-Iraq; Katibat Abu Fathel al-A’abas; Katibat Zayd Ebin Ali; Katibut Karbalah

Description:  Formed in 2006 as an anti-Western Shia group, Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) was designated as an FTO on July 2, 2009.  Prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, the group conducted attacks against U.S., Iraqi, and Coalition targets in Iraq and threatened the lives of Iraqi politicians and civilians supporting the legitimate political process in Iraq.  KH is notable for its extensive use of media operations and propaganda, such as filming and releasing videos of attacks.  KH has ideological ties to and receives support from Iran.

Activities:  KH has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks since 2007, including IED attacks, rocket-propelled grenade attacks, and sniper operations.  In 2007, KH gained notoriety for its attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq.  In June 2011, five U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad when KH assailants fired multiple rockets at U.S. military base, Camp Victory.  The group remained active in 2015, fighting in Syria in support of the Assad regime and in Iraq against ISIS.

In 2016, KH continued to fight ISIS alongside the Iraqi army, but operated outside the Iraqi government’s command-and-control structure.  In 2017, the group threatened to fight “American occupiers” in Iraq in an article published on the group’s official website.  In 2018, the group issued a warning statement threatening the U.S. presence in Iraq in retaliation for a non-Coalition airstrike that hit KH members in Syria.

In June 2019, KH members stormed the Bahraini embassy in Baghdad in protest of Bahrain hosting America’s Israel-Palestine conference.  In October 2019, KH was reportedly involved in sniper operations against Iraqi protestors.  On December 27, KH was blamed for a rocket attack on K-1 Air Base in Kirkuk that killed one U.S. citizen.  On December 31, members of KH broke into the U.S. Embassy compound and participated in a violent attack against the facility, setting fires inside which destroyed security checkpoints and reception rooms.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Iraq and Syria

Funding and External Aid:  KH depends heavily on support from Iran.