On the day that supporters of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia behind recent attacks on Iraqi forces — including an attack on a base that killed an American contractor — stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named some of the terrorism-connected leaders who helped orchestrate the attacks. Among the men Pompeo listed is the leader of a pro-Iran Shiite faction, Hadi al Amari, who President Barack Obama hosted at the White House, stirring controversy at the time.
“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 Tuesday. “All are pictured below outside our embassy.” Sec. Pompeo included three photographs showing the leaders, including Amari, outside the besieged embassy on Tuesday:
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. All are pictured below outside our embassy. pic.twitter.com/2QfGGrfmDd
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 31, 2019
As reported by The Daily Mail, the Iran operative was once a controversial guest at the Oval Office at the invitation of Obama, who allowed him to be included among those discussing the future of Iraq:
Hadi al Amiri joined Iraq‘s then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as his Minister for Transport when he stood in the Oval Office in December 2011… A former guerrilla fighter who fought for Tehran in the Iran-Iraq War, Amiri has been accused of terrorism against the US, of helping Iran to ship arms to Bashar al-Assad in Syria and has been pictured bowing before the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Amiri’s pro-Tehran military activities would have been well known to the Pentagon at the time he was invited to the White House, The Daily Mail explains, as he was “the former commander of the Badr Corps, which received funding, training and arms from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).”
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Qods Force, has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. The U.S. government has determined that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Amiri’s presence in the Oval Office was a “grave concern” to lawmakers at the time, the Mail highlights.
Amiri has continued to be openly pro-Iran, including while he was transport minister from 2010 through 2014, and was allegedly “acting on the orders of the fearsome IRGC Major General Qassem Suleimani by allowing Iranian jets to fly weapons to the Syrian regime during Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on his own people,” the Mail notes.
Amiri eventually returned to his role as Commander of the Badr Corps, an Iranian proxy group within Iraq’s state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which fought against ISIS in 2014 and 2015.
Along with tweeting out the names of the leaders involved in the attack on the U.S. Embassy, Pompeo also made sure to distinguish between the violent protesters outside the embassy and those in recent months protesting the influence of the Iranian regime that backs Amiri.
“Today’s attack against the U.S. Embassy should not be confused with the legitimate efforts of the Iraqi protestors who have been in the streets since October working for the people of Iraq to end the corruption exported there by the Iranian regime,” Pompeo wrote.