The US designated Abu Fadak al-Mohammadawi, Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Unit leader and former secretary general of Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), the US State Department reported in a statement.
The statement added that Muhammadawi is the former secretary general of Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and SDGT.
“KH, established in 2006, is an Iran-backed terrorist organization that seeks to advance Iran’s malign agenda in the region and has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks in Iraq, including improvised explosive device attacks, indirect fire attacks, rocket-propelled grenade attacks, and sniper operations,” the statement added.
The statement added that KH has reportedly been involved in recent and widespread theft of Iraqi state resources and the killing, abduction, and torture of peaceful protesters and activists in Iraq.
The statement added that Muhammadawi is separately working in conjunction with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force to reshape official Iraqi state security institutions away from their true purpose of defending the Iraqi state and fighting ISIS, to instead support Iran’s malign activities, including the defense of the Assad regime in Syria.
“Iran-backed elements, including those in which Muhammadawi now plays a leadership role, have previously been involved in sectarian violence, including the abductions of hundreds of men from areas liberated from ISIS control,” the statement added.
The State Department added that the designation seeks to deny Muhammadawi the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences, all of his property and interests that are in the US, that hereafter come within the US, or hereafter come within the possession or control of US persons, have been blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him.
The Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militia group has named Abu Fadak al-Mohammadawi as its new leader, succeeding Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who was killed in Iraq alongside Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last year.
The new PMU leader, whose real name is Abdulaziz al-Mohammadawi, has been known to go by the nickname “al-Khal” or the uncle in English.
Al-Mohammadawi was considered as a close friend of Soleimani.