State Department Terrorist Designations of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Its Leaders, Qays and Laith al-Khazali

state department logo

Today, the Secretary of State announced his intent to designate Aas’ib Ahl al-Haq — also known as AAH — as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Additionally, the Secretary has designated AAH and two of its leaders, brothers Qays and Laith al-Khazali, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

“AAH and its leaders are violent proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Acting on behalf of their masters in Tehran, they use violence and terror to further the Iranian regime’s efforts to undermine Iraqi sovereignty.” AAH is extensively funded and trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, an entity that was part of the IRGC designation as an FTO in April 2019.

These designations seek to deny AAH and its leadership the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences of designations, all of AAH and the al-Khazali brothers’ property and interests that are within the United States or that come within the United States or that come within the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. In addition, as a designated FTO, it is a federal crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to AAH.

AAH, led by Qays and Laith al-Khazali, is an Iran-backed, militant organization that has claimed responsibility for more than 6,000 attacks against U.S. and Coalitions forces since its creation in 2006. AAH has carried out highly sophisticated operations, including mortar attacks on an American base, the downing of a British helicopter, and an attack on the Karbala Provincial Headquarters that resulted in the capture and murder of five American soldiers.

Today’s designations follow an action taken by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on December 6, 2019, to designate Qays and Laith al-Khazali pursuant to E.O. 13818 for their involvement in serious human rights abuses in Iraq, including approving the use of lethal force against protesters for the purpose of public intimidation. The FTO designation of AAH will take effect after a statutory 7-day congressional notification period. The SDGT designations of AAH and the al-Khazali brothers are effective immediately.

Today’s actions notify the U.S. public and the international community that this group is a terrorist organization and its leaders, the Khazali brothers, who have participated in its terrorist acts, are SDGTs. Terrorist designations expose and isolate entities and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments.

A list of State Department-designated FTOs and SDGTs is available here: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/index.htm.