The United States labeled the chief of staff of Iraqâ€™s Popular Mobilization UnitsÂ a designated global terrorist Wednesday in the outgoing Trump administrationâ€™s latest attempt to isolate Iranâ€™s foreign proxies before leaving office.
Abdul Aziz al-Muhammadawi,Â also known as Abu Fadak, serves as the deputy head of the PMU. The organization officially lies under the authority of the federal government in Baghdad;Â however, many of the PMU militias receive support from Iran and have ties to the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Abu Fadak is one of them, the US State Department said Wednesday. The influential Shiite official was once secretary-general of Kataib Hezbollah, which the United StatesÂ designated a terrorist organization in 2009.
The influential Shiite militia conducted ambushes on American forces during the US occupation of Iraq and has claimed a number of other violent attacks since. Washington says the group was key to violently suppressing pro-democracy protests across Iraq last year and does the bidding of Iran.
The State Department accused Abu Fadak on Wednesday of working with the Quds Force to â€œreshape official Iraqi state security institutionsâ€ to â€œsupport Iranâ€™s malign activities, including the defense of the Assad regime in Syria.
The department also accused him of involvement in â€œabductions of hundreds of menâ€ in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS). â€œThese individuals remain missing to this day,â€ the State Department statement read.
In a separate statement Wednesday, the US Treasury Department appeared to accuse Abu Fadak of links with IS. A spokesperson for the Treasury did not immediately return Al-Monitorâ€™s request for comment.
The United StatesÂ also unveiled sanctions WednesdayÂ on two financial organizations it said were controlled by Iranâ€™s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: the Astan Quds Razavi and Execution of Imam Kohmeiniâ€™s Order. The State Department said the ostensiblyÂ charitable organizations control major swaths of the Iranian economy.
Earlier this week the Trump administration sanctioned the chairman of Iraqâ€™s PMU, Faleh al-Fayadh, under an addendum to the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the United StatesÂ to sanction foreign figures based on allegations of human rights abuses.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accused Fayadh of â€œdirecting and supervising the murder of peaceful Iraqi demonstratorsâ€ and â€œwaging a violent campaign against Iraqi democracy and civil society.â€
IraqiÂ Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi ousted Fayadh as Iraqâ€™s national security adviser last year.
The Trump administrationÂ assassinated former Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a Baghdad drone strike in January 2020. Also killed was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy PMU chief whom Abu Fadak has succeeded.