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Fmr. Iran-backed militia leader photographed at US Embassy attack in Baghdad visited Obama White House in 2011

Hadi al Amiri, Iraqi militia leader. (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo/Twitter)
January 02, 2020

A former Iran-backed Iraqi militia leader and current Iraqi politician who was photographed this week at the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad visited the White House during in 2011 during the Obama administration.

“The attack today was orchestrated by terrorists – Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Qays al-Khazali – and abetted by Iranian proxies – Hadi al Amari and Faleh al-Fayyad,” Pompeo tweeted on Tuesday, along with three photos.

Hadi al Amiri currently serves as head of the prominent Iraqi political parties, the Fatah Alliance, as well as the Badr Organization, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. The Congressional Research Service names the Badr Organization as one of “the most powerful Iran-backed militias” with 20,000 militia fighters under Amiri’s leadership, giving him “significant political influence” as he maintains “close ties to Iran.”

An Army War College report further details Amiri’s close relationship with Iran’s recently slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who “coordinated” the Badr militia’s victories.

Amiri was serving as Iraq’s transportation minister at the time of his 2011 visit to the Obama White House, the Washington Times first reported in December 2011.

Al Amiri had accompanied Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to the White House where al-Maliki delivered a joint press conference with former President Obama. Al-Maliki has long been suspected of acting in the interests of Iran.

After the visit, former FBI director Louis Freeh had said it was shocking for al-Amiri to be included in the visit to the White House considering his involvement in the IRGC and its “countless acts of terrorism, which are acts of war against the United States.”

Al Amiri was also suspected of being connected to the deaths of 19 U.S. Air Force personnel killed in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, the Washington Times reported.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2011, said at the time it was “extremely disturbing that the White House would see fit to welcome Al-Amiri to a discussion on the future of Iraq,” the Daily Mail reported.

“If anything, he should be subject to questioning by the FBI and other appropriate U.S. law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies,” she added at the time. “The victims of Khobar Towers and the families of thousands of U.S. troops who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq deserve no less.”

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was stormed by pro-Iranian protesters early Tuesday, less than two days after the U.S. carried out airstrikes on five sites belonging to the Iran-backed Iraqi militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah.

The protesters set fire to the embassy’s perimeter, smashed windows and doors, and marched and chanted while shouting “death to America” and “down, down America.”

Embassy employees and diplomats were forced to evacuate the location. The U.S. deployed 100 crisis response Marines to reinforce the embassy, along with 750 Army paratroopers to support the region.

The U.S. airstrikes conducted on Dec. 29 came in response after the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia launched a 30+ rocket attack on the K1 military base near Kirkuk, Iraq, which left one U.S. defense contractor dead, and four other U.S. service members injured, according to a Pentagon statement.

The U.S. airstrikes killed 25 militia members and injured 51, and the militia vowed to strike back on the U.S. in revenge.

Correction: This article’s title has been updated to reflect Hadi al Amiri’s current title and the article has been updated to provide clarity surrounding al Amiri’s role in the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and his current standing with the Badr Corps party and militia.