Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

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Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
أبو مهدي المهندس
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.jpg
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
Deputy Chairman of Popular Mobilization Committee
In office
June 2014 – January 2020
Secretary-General of Kata'ib Hezbollah
In office
October 2003 – January 2020
Member of Iraqi Parliament
In office
Personal details
Jamal Ja'far Muhammad Ali Al Ibrahim

(1954-07-01)1 July 1954
Abu Al-Khaseeb, Basra Governorate, Iraq
Died3 January 2020(2020-01-03) (aged 65)
Baghdad Airport Road, Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad Governorate, Iraq
Cause of deathKilled in Action
Political partyIslamic Dawa Party (1977–2020)
Other political
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (1985–2020)
Military service
Allegiance Iraq
Branch/service Popular Mobilization Forces
Years of service1985–2020
Unit Kata'ib Hezbollah
Badr Brigade (Formerly)
Battles/warsIran Iraq War
Iraq War 2017 Iraqi-Kurdish conflict

Jamal Ja'far Muhammad Ali Al Ibrahim (Arabic: جمال جعفر محمد علي آل إبراهيمJamāl Jaʿfar Muḥammad ʿAlīy ʾĀl ʾIbrāhīm, 1 July 1954 – 3 January 2020), known by the kunya Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (Arabic: أبو مهدي المهندس‎, lit.'Father of Mahdi, the Engineer'), also spelled Mohandes, was an Iraqi commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). At the time of his death, he was deputy chief of the PMF (Al-Hashd Al-Sha'abi).

Since 1977 he was an opponent of Saddam Hussein and rose quickly in the ranks due to his popular support amongst the people after the regime fell because of his role in the defeat of ISIS. He became the commander of many popular volunteer militias that grew from the need to combat ISIS, including the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia group,[1][2] which is designated a terror organisation by the governments of Japan, the US and the UAE ;[3] and prior to that worked with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps against Saddam Hussein's regime.[4]

Allegations of terrorism have been levelled against him over his activities in Kuwait in the 1980s.[5][6] He was sentenced to death in absentia in 2007[7] by a court in Kuwait for his involvement in the 1983 Kuwait bombings.[8] Muhandis was on the United States list of designated terrorists.[9][10] However this has been disputed due to his role in combating the Ba'ath regime rather than supporting it (via attacking Kuwait).[citation needed] The charges were dropped when the new Iraqi government was formed in 2004.[citation needed] The organisations he oversaw, such as the Popular Mobilization Forces have been reported to have close links to the Quds Force, part of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He was killed by a targeted U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on 3 January 2020, which also killed Iranian Armed Forces Major General Qasem Soleimani.[11]


Jamal Jaafar al-Ibrahimi was born on 1 July 1954 in Abu Al-Khaseeb District, Basra Governorate, Iraq,[12] to an Iraqi father and an Iranian mother.[6] He finished his studies in engineering in 1977 and in the same year joined the Shia-based Dawa Party, which opposed the Ba'athist government.[8]

Military career[edit]

On 1979, after the activity of the Dawa Party was banned and hundreds of opponents were sentenced to death by Saddam Hussein[13] Al-Muhandis fled, across the border to Ahvaz in Iran, where the Iranians had set up a camp to train Iraqi dissidents, with the aim of undermining Saddam.[8] He was known as Jamal al-Ibrahimi in Iran and he became a citizen of Iran by marrying a woman.[13] He began working with Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Kuwait in 1983, organizing attacks on embassies of countries that supported Saddam in the Iran–Iraq War.[4] Hours after the December 1983 bomb attacks on U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait, he fled to Iran.[6] He was later convicted and sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Kuwait for planning the attacks.[8] He was later appointed a military adviser to the Quds Force,[14] advising on attacks against Iraqi military based in his hometown of Basra.[6]

He returned to Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and went on to serve as a security adviser to the first Iraqi prime minister after the invasion, Ibrahim al-Jaafari.[8] In 2005 he was elected to the Iraqi Parliament as a Dawa Party representative for the Babil Governorate.[6] When U.S. officials realised his identity and connection with the 1983 attacks, they raised the issue with then-Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2006 or 2007.[8] He had to flee to Iran. He formed Kata'ib Hezbollah between 2003 and 2007.[14][15]

He returned to Iraq following the withdrawal of US troops (December 2011) to head the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia;[4] he then became deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Forces.[16]

On 31 December 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named al-Muhandis, along with Qais Khazali, Hadi al-Amiri, and Falih Alfayyadh, as responsible for the attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad.[17]

Qasem Soleimani (left) with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (right) at a 2017 ceremony commemorating the father of Soleimani, in Musalla, Tehran.

On 3 January 2020, al-Muhandis was killed along with Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad International Airport.[18][19]

War against ISIL in Iraq[edit]

After the formation of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) as a group in 2014,[20] he was appointed to command the group.[21] The PMF group composed of some 40 militias that fought in nearly every major battle against ISIL.[22]


In 2009, al-Muhandis was sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury for allegedly helping the IRGC.[23] Muhandis was also accused of being linked to the IJO who participated in 1983 United States embassy bombing in Beirut.[24]


Abu Mahdi was killed on 3 January 2020 around 1:00 a.m. local time (22:00 UTC 2 January),[25] by missiles shot from American drones which targeted Qasem Soleimani and his convoy near Baghdad International Airport.[26][27] BBC News, NBC News, DW News, Time, The Guardian and other media outlets have described the killing as an assassination.[28][29][30][31][32]


Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group mentioned him as one of the symbols of Iraqi liberation from the US occupation and also condolences to the Iraqi for the death of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[33]

Funeral and burial[edit]

Funeral of Qasem Soleimani and other casualties
Funeral of Soleimani and other casualties in Enqelab Square, Tehran, Iran
Funeral of Soleimani and other casualties in Ahvaz, Iran

On 4 January, a funeral procession for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Soleimani was held in Baghdad with thousands of mourners in attendance, waving Iraqi and militia flags[34] and chanting "death to America, death to Israel".[35] The procession started at the Al-Kadhimiya Mosque in Baghdad. Iraq's prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and leaders of Iran-backed militias attended the funeral procession.[36] They were taken to the holy Shia cities of Najaf[37] and Karbala were held funeral prayers on them.[38]

He was transferred to Iran for the DNA test.[38] A funeral procession was started from Ahvaz then was taken them to Mashhad. On 6 January, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei held funeral prayers among hundreds of thousands of people and crying in front of the flag-draped coffins for the deceased.[39][40] On 7 January, his body was returned to Iraq and transferred to his hometown of Basra.[41] His burial was delayed because of the huge crowd at the funeral.[38] On 8 January, Al-Muhandis was buried in Iraq's Najaf where hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their final respects. Funeral processions were also held in several Iraqi cities prior to Najaf, including Baghdad and Karbala.[42]

First anniversary[edit]

On 3 January 2021, the first anniversary of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis' deaths was observed in Baghdad.[43] Tens of thousands of Iraqis marched on the highway leading to the airport while chanting anti-American slogans.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis: Iraqi killed in US strike was key militia figure". theguardian.
  2. ^ Melman, Yossi. "Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Head of pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah Targeted by U.S."
  3. ^ "カタイブ・ヒズボラ(KH) | 国際テロリズム要覧(Web版) | 公安調査庁". 2 March 2019. Archived from the original on 2 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Dehghanpisheh, Babak (12 November 2014). "Special Report: The fighters of Iraq who answer to Iran". Reuters.
  5. ^ "Iraqi Army still ineffective despite U.S. training". Newsweek. Reuters. 4 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e Othman al-Mukhtar (4 January 2015). "Fugitive from international justice now militia leader in Iraq". al-Araby al-Jadeed English.
  7. ^ "Inside the plot by Iran's Soleimani to attack U.S. forces in Iraq". 4 January 2020 – via www.reuters.com.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Glanz, James; Santora, Marc (7 February 2007). "Iraqi lawmaker was convicted in 1983 bombings in Kuwait that killed 5". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Treasury Designates Individual, Entity Posing Threat to Stability in Iraq". www.treasury.gov.
  10. ^ Lawrence, John (26 May 2015). "Iraq Situation Report: May 23–25, 2015". understandingwar.org. Institute for the Study of War. Retrieved 27 May 2015. See paragraph 5 of the report.
  11. ^ Hassan, Falih; Rubin, Alissa J.; Crowley, Michael (2 January 2020). "Iraqi TV Reports Strike Kills Powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  12. ^ "شاهد: "شهادة وفاة" أبو مهدي المهندس الرجل الثاني في الحشد الشعبي". jesrpress.com (in Arabic). 3 January 2020.
  13. ^ a b staff, MEE. "Who was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis?".
  14. ^ a b FRANTZMAN, SETH J. "Who was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed in US airstrike with Soleimani?". jpost.
  15. ^ Testimony before the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Washington, DC June 8, 2010
  16. ^ "ساختار حشد شعبی عراق؛ تشکل نظامی مردمی" (in Persian). Tasnim News Agency. 12 July 2015.
  17. ^ "US embassy siege leader was guest at White House during Obama presidency". Al Arabiya English. 3 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Iran's Soleimani and Iraq's Muhandis killed in air strike: militia spokesman". Reuters. 3 January 2020.
  19. ^ Burns, Robert; Baldor, Lolita C.; Miller, Zeke (3 January 2020). "Trump: Aim of Killing Iranian General Was to 'Stop a War'". NBC 5. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  20. ^ al Khadimi, Mustafa (12 March 2015). "Will Sistani be able to control popular mobilization forces?". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  21. ^ Sly, Liz (16 February 2015). "Iraq's pro-Iranian Shiite militias lead the war against the Islamic State". Star and Stripes. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  22. ^ El-Ghobashy, Tamer; Salim, Mustafa (15 December 2017). "Top Iraqi Shiite cleric calls for scaling back militia influence, backing prime minister". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  23. ^ Yuhas, Alan. "Airstrike That Killed Suleimani Also Killed Powerful Iraqi Militia Leader". nytimes.
  24. ^ Glanz, James; Santora, Marc (7 February 2007). "Iraqi Lawmaker Was Convicted in 1983 Bombings in Kuwait That Killed 5". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  25. ^ Ghattas, Kim (3 January 2020). "Qassem Soleimani Haunted the Arab World". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Hashd deputy Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis: Iran's man in Baghdad". aljazeera.
  27. ^ Tom O'Connor; James Laporta. "Iraq Militia Officials, Iran's Quds Force Head Killed in U.S. Drone Strike". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Thousands mourn assassinated Iranian general". BBC News. 4 January 2020. Archived from the original on 8 January 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  29. ^ "Why the U.S. Is Bracing for Retaliation After Assassinating Iran's Qasem Soleimani". Time. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  30. ^ "How the Soleimani assassination was reported in Germany | DW | 03.01.2020". DW.COM. Archived from the original on 6 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Opinion | Trump was right to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani". NBC News. Archived from the original on 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  32. ^ Chulov, Martin; Borger, Julian; Abdul-Ahad, Ghaith (5 January 2020). "Doubts grow over US case for Suleimani assassination as Iran urges revenge". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020 – via www.theguardian.com.
  33. ^ "World reacts to US killing of Iran's Qassem Soleimani in Iraq". aljazeera.
  34. ^ "Qasem Soleimani: Mourners gather in Baghdad for funeral procession". BBC News. 4 January 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  35. ^ O'Brien, Amy (4 January 2020). "Thousands march in Baghdad funeral procession for Qassem Suleimani—video". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  36. ^ Safi, Michael (4 January 2020). "Qassem Suleimani: chants of 'death to America' at Baghdad funeral". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  37. ^ Ibrahim, Arwa. "'You never let us down': Thousands mourn Soleimani in Baghdad". aljazeera. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  38. ^ a b c "Hashd deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis buried in Iraq's Najaf". aljazeera.
  39. ^ "Soleimani: Huge crowds pack Tehran for commander's funeral". BBC News. BBC. 6 January 2020.
  40. ^ "Mourners flood Tehran as calls for revenge over Soleimani grow". Al Jazeera. 6 January 2020.
  41. ^ Mohammmed, Aboulenein, Aref , Ahmed. "Thousands mourn Iran-backed paramilitary linchpin in southern Iraq". reuters.
  42. ^ "Hashd deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis buried in Iraq's Najaf". www.aljazeera.com.
  43. ^ "Iran vows to retaliate against any 'enemy action', one year after Suleimani killing". The Guardian.
  44. ^ Nazeh, Maher. "Chanting anti-US slogans, Iraqi militia supporters mark year since Soleimani's killing". reuters.