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The report stated that the “resistance” escalated the process of recruiting influential leaders into the “Peace Brigades.” On May 14, 2023, the “Peace Brigades” expelled Abu Hassan al-Daradji, one of its prominent leaders, from Basra on charges of “treason,” and he soon joined the “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.”
According to the report, most of the evidence currently available indicates that many of the communications made by the "Ashab al-Kahf" group recently, including its threats against American helicopters and its retroactive adoption of killing Americans, apparently have an ulterior motive, as the group may not actually intensify its campaign. The movement is strong against the remaining American presence in Iraq, but uses the symbolism of actual acts of "resistance" in the past to enhance its current image.
The following is the text of the report:
The “Ashab al-Kahf” group is spreading more and more false information that suggests that it is a real armed resistance movement, albeit without any evidence of actual kinetic operations.
In the early hours of May 29, 2022, the Telegram channel of the front group Ashab al-Kahf published a “temporary” internal message addressed to a person named Abu Yasser. The short message read: “Temporary. This message is for Abu Yasser.” Then the post was deleted a few minutes later.
Soon after that, the group sent a longer leaflet to Abu Yasser, which this time included some instructions, and the letter stated, “… Peace be upon you, our brother Abu Yasser, the living martyr… Our dear brother, we ask you to prepare and prepare the Brotherhood, and your brothers from the [special forces] will [to see] you if you need in something. Be ready, you who have been dismembered… Our war may begin these days” (Fig. 1). This message was also deleted a few minutes later.
An hour later, another message was posted with more specific instructions. This time, the message was addressed to “Shabab 313” and asked them to “exit Nineveh (Mosul) quickly… and move to another arena, which you will know in the morning.” And the letter continued, “… we kiss your steadfast feet… and your hands that have always fired missiles at the arrogant Turk… Go back to Baghdad, the center, and the south, for we may ask you to do what your proud souls desire” (Figure 2). This message was also deleted at a later date. All these deleted messages remained on the main channel of the “Ashab al-Kahf”, published on the Telegram channels of the “Ashab al-Kahf” group.
This is unprecedented behavior for the main Telegram channel Ashab al-Kahf, which would not normally be recklessly using a public social media channel to channel internal messages. In the past, Ashab al-Kahf and other “resistance” groups (anti-American militias backed by Iran) have used social media to launch media operations, make threats, exaggerate their capabilities, and even claim fake attacks. But it never disclosed a military plan, such as moving units from one area to another, on social media, as there are better ways to do so.
This unconventional method of messaging may be attributed to the efforts of the “Cave Owners” and the “resistance” in general to empty the “Peace Brigades” organization affiliated with the Sadrist movement. On May 27, 2023, the Ashab al-Kahf social media channels revealed the name of one of its deceased leaders for the first time. For example, a newly created Telegram channel called “Ahl al-Kahf” posted a video of Mr. Naji al-Mirani, the former high-ranking commander of Saraya al-Salam who was the jihadist deputy to Muqtada al-Sadr. The letter introduced Al-Mirani as “one of the elite [fighters] of… the ‘Ashab al-Kahf’.” And the letter continues, “It may be the first time that we announce it … Where are Sayed Naji’s brothers? Basra is occupied by the Americans, the British, the Israelis and the Gulf [with freedom].”
It seems that this is an invitation to the “Peace Brigades” fighters in Basra, the hometown of Sayed Naji al-Mirani, to assist the “Sahaba al-Kahf” in its operations. This may be an attempt to recruit Saraya al-Salam fighters.
In November 2018, Sayed Naji al-Miriani and a few other fighters were expelled from Saraya al-Salam. In August 2020, he died of COVID-19. In September 2020, the “resistance” posted posters of Sayed Naji al-Mirani on the border between Lebanon and Israel (Fig. 4). Although the accounts affiliated with the Sadrists on social media revealed in September 2020 Al-Maryani’s association with the “Ashab al-Kahf” group, this information did not spread widely until the “Ashab al-Kahf” apparently decided to use it to encourage more fighters. Peace Brigades to defect from the Sadrist militia.
The name Abu Yasir may serve the same purpose. By “Abu Yasser,” the Ashab al-Kahf group probably meant the high-ranking commander of the Peace Brigades, Abu Yasser, who, like al-Mirani, was the jihadi deputy of Muqtada al-Sadr. And in November 2021, Muqtada al-Sadr demoted Abu Yasser from his jihadi deputy to “jihadi advisor only.” It is possible that the Ashab al-Kahf group is trying to encourage more Sadrist militiamen to join it by revealing that other high-ranking leaders of the Peace Brigades have already joined it.
The “resistance” escalated the process of recruiting influential leaders into the “Peace Brigades.” On May 14, 2023, Saraya al-Salam expelled Abu Hassan al-Daradji, one of its prominent leaders, from Basra on charges of “treason,” and he soon joined Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
In our view, most of the evidence currently available indicates that much of Ashab al-Kahf's recent communications, including its threats against US helicopters and its retroactive claim to murdering Americans, appear to have an ulterior motive. The Ashab al-Kahf group may not actually intensify a strong kinetic campaign against the remaining American presence in Iraq, but rather use the symbolism of actual acts of “resistance” in the past to enhance its current image, despite the fact that there is no current armed resistance to the American presence in Iraq.
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