The militias loyal to Tehran in Iraq are working to adopt new ways to finance their activities after the interruption of Iranian funding, by reproducing an experiment carried out by the Lebanese Hezbollah, which generated millions of dollars annually.
The new ways are to rely on local financial sources, by opening offices to provide “usurious” loans to employees and retirees, with the complicity of local banks and financial companies.
A report by the Washington Institute for Near East Studies said that this mechanism violates “Islamic law”, which raises doubts about the legitimacy of the ideology of these militias, and highlights their determination to seize power.
The report, written by the Iraqi researcher specializing in Shiite militia affairs and their intellectual background, Sadiq Hassan, stated that the Iranian-backed militias are trying to cover their financial losses through “fraudulent and usurious lending.”
Some militias, such as “Hezbollah al-Nujaba” and others, have opened offices to grant financial loans to employees and retirees, who hold electronic payment cards.
The report indicates that “the story begins with advertisements on social networks, which include a general invitation to borrow outside the administrative contexts of government banks, and they are called instant loans, meaning that the loan applicant receives the amount he requests according to his salary on the same day of the loan request, and this matter is very tempting for those who need this. financial loan.
These ads direct loan applicants through Facebook to phone numbers, and sometimes to the names of companies that sell household items in convenient installments as a “cover for fraud.”
Then the loan applicant contacts, after militia officials provide him with the addresses of where the borrowing transaction takes place, and it usually takes place inside an office in known buildings or buildings.
The Washington Institute report adds that these officials then take the “key card” of the loan applicant and send it to another place where employees and retirees are registered with their salaries, and there is a fingerprint device.
The process lasts more than five hours, after which the person is sent to a private bank to receive the amount.
To complete the process, the report shows that “there is a well-known company that the militias deal with and its location” in Baghdad “and it is the company that gives the amounts in dollars.”
A large amount is deducted on the same day from the loan amount granted to the employee or retiree, and a very high amount of money is deducted monthly.
For example, a borrower whose salary is 800,000 Iraqi dinars is granted $2,000 (2.9 million dinars), 300 dollars are deducted from him on the same day, and then 400,000 Iraqi dinars are taken from him monthly for a whole year, meaning that the sum obtained in the end amounts to approximately five million This is a very exorbitant amount.
This step is completely identical to what the Lebanese Hezbollah has been doing for several years through the “Al-Qard Al-Hasan” institution, which is the party’s bank in Lebanon, and a major source of its financing and money laundering.
The opening of this institution dates back to the eighties of the last century, when it was registered as a charitable association, while today it provides loans of about $ 500 million to more than 200 thousand borrowers, and grants financial loans in dollars in exchange for mortgaging gold, or placing similar amounts in value.
A previous report, published by Reuters last July, talked about Tehran reducing the monthly funding of prominent armed militias in Iraq, due to the financial crisis caused by US financial sanctions and the Corona pandemic.
Reuters reported that the reduction in financial allocations affected the operations of armed groups and forced them to search for alternative sources of funding for military operations and weapons, such as their own commercial interests.
Political researcher Raad Hashem is not surprised that the militias loyal to Tehran have relied on “crooked” roads that violate the religious teachings that they hide behind, and that they are promoting as its defender.
Hashem told Al-Hurra that these groups “have seized Christian homes and Iraqi property in Mosul, Baghdad and other cities, and they also take royalties from farmers and impose sums of money on truck drivers in areas under their influence.”
Not only that, but reports published by Al-Hurra earlier confirm that these militias provide a kind of protection in exchange for money imposed by militia members on nightclubs, gambling houses and alcohol stores in Baghdad.
Hashem believes that “the Iranian-backed groups, after they tightened their political and security control over Iraq, turned to the economic sector in all its aspects, in an attempt to reproduce the experience of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.”
He adds that “the militias have come to dominate all the vital joints in the country, from weapons to oil and then the economy and money, and this is a very dangerous matter because in the end they may swallow the whole country.”
A previous report by Al-Hurra website indicated that the influential Iraqi militias, the most important of which are the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and the Al-Nujaba Militia, possess economic assets and control suspicious and illegal commercial activities.
The militias also run an activity to smuggle people in western Iraq in exchange for money, and they also smuggle the families of ISIS members from the camps of Syria to Iraq in exchange for sums of money.