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Qais Khazali
الشيخ قيس الخزعلي
Secretary-General of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq
Assumed office
July 2006
Personal details
Born 1974 (age 47–48)[1]
Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq
Nationality Iraqi
Political party Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq
Other political
Fatah Alliance
Military service
Allegiance  Iraq
Service/branch File:Popular Mobilization Forces (Iraq) logo.jpg Popular Mobilization Forces
Unit File:Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq flag.png Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq
Battles/wars Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017)

Qais Hadi Sayed Hasan al-Khazali (Arabic language: قيس هادي سيد حسن الخزعلي‎; born 1974) is best known as the founder and leader of the Special Groups in Iraq from June 2006 until his capture by British forces in March 2007.[2] As head of the Special Groups, Khazali directed arms smuggling, formation of death squads to participate in sectarian violence, kidnappings, and assassinations, most notably the 20 January 2007 attack on American forces in Karbala.[3][4][not in citation given] A former follower of Muqtada al-Sadr, he was expelled from the Mahdi Army in 2004 for giving "unauthorized orders" and founded his own group: Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) also known as the "Khazali network". During his incarceration Akram al-Kabi became acting commander of the organisation until his release.[5]

Arrest and release

On the night of 20 March 2007 G squadron of the British SAS raided a house in Basra containing Khazali and arrested him along with his brother and his Lebanese advisor without casualties and gained valuable intelligence.[6]

Khazali was released in January 2010, in exchange for the release of Peter Moore, who had been kidnapped by Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq.[7] In December that year, notorious special groups commanders Abu Deraa and Mustafa al-Sheibani were allowed to return to Iraq and declared they would be working with Khazali after their return.[8]


In December 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Khazali for "involvement in serious human rights abuse in Iraq." [9] On 31 December 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named Khazali, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Hadi al-Amiri, and Falih Alfayyadh, as responsible for the attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad.[10]

On 3 January 2020, U.S. designated Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq as foreign terrorist organization, with Qais al-Khazali and his brother Laith al-Khazali as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.[11]


  1. Iraq Asaib al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali pledges to lay down arms | News | National Post
  2. Kagan, pp 167, 177.
  3. Kagan, pp 168-177
  4. Kevin J. Bergner (2007-07-02). "MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE - IRAQ: Situational Update". US Forces in Iraq. pp. 16–17. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 1, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2010. 
  6. Urban, Mark, Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the Secret Special Forces War in Iraq , St. Martin's Griffin, 2012 ISBN 1250006961 ISBN 978-1250006967, p.222-p.225, p.275
  7. Chulov, Martin (2010-01-03). "Cleric freed in move expected to prompt handover of kidnapped Briton's body". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  8. In Iraq, Iran's Special Groups to flourish -
  9. "Treasury Sanctions Iran-Backed Militia Leaders Who Killed Innocent Demonstrators in Iraq". U.S. Department of the Treasury. December 6, 2019. 
  10. "US embassy siege leader was guest at White House during Obama presidency". Al Arabiya English. 2020-01-03. 
  11. "U.S. to designate Iran-backed Iraqi militia as foreign terrorist organization". 3 January 2020. 


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