A Lack Of Vigilance Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

Faults Underlying Exercise Vigilant Guard

Story by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment

Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009

This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults.

The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said.

“In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said.

This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday.

Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director.

“A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault.

Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added.

Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage.

“It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi.

The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added.

“You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said.

Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents.

Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.”

“I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said.

Training concluded Thursday.

India and Pakistan Are Edging Closer to the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India and Pakistan Are Edging Closer to War in 2020

Two crises dominated South Asia in 2019, and each one stands to get worse next year.

Michael Kugelman

December 31, 2019, 10:12 AM

Indian Border Security Force personnel (dressed in brown) and Pakistani Rangers (dressed in black) take part in the Beating Retreat ceremony at the India-Pakistan border in Wagah on Dec. 26. Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images

Turmoil is never far away in South Asia, between disputed borders, acute resource shortages, and threats ranging from extremist violence to earthquakes. But in 2019, two crises stood out: an intensifying war in Afghanistan and deep tensions between India and Pakistan. And as serious as both were in 2019, expect them to get even worse in the coming year.

Afghanistan has already seen several grim milestones in the last 12 months that attested to the ferocity of the Taliban insurgency. Casualty figures for Afghan security forces and civilians set new records. It was also the deadliest year for U.S. forces since 2014.

Ironically, violence soared even as there was unprecedented momentum toward launching a peace process. U.S. President Donald Trump, eager to exit Afghanistan, stepped up efforts to secure a deal with the Taliban that would give him the political cover for a troop withdrawal. U.S. negotiators and senior Taliban representatives held multiple rounds of talks, and by September the two sides were finalizing a deal that centered on a withdrawal of U.S. troops coupled with a commitment by the Taliban to renounce ties to international terror groups.

However, in September, Trump abruptly called off talks, giving a recent Taliban attack on a U.S. soldier as the reason. The likelier explanation, as I wrote for Foreign Policy back then, was the administration’s recognition that the emerging accord with the Taliban—which didn’t call for any type of cease-fire—was a lousy deal for Washington and Kabul.

The suspension of talks didn’t last long. Trump announced plans to scale up offensives against the Taliban, but this was more of a bargaining tactic than a battlefield redirection. Washington wanted to increase military pressure on the Taliban so that the insurgents would make more concessions at the negotiating table—such as the cease-fire they had refused to agree to earlier. Indeed, several days after Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, talks resumed—and this time with U.S. negotiators aiming to get a Taliban commitment to reduce violence against U.S. troops.During the last few days of December, media reports revealed that the Taliban had agreed to a temporary ceasefire to clear the way for a deal with the United States. The Taliban, however, rejected these reports.

Meanwhile, 2019 was a dangerously tense year for India and Pakistan—two rivals that are both neighbors and nuclear states. In February, a young Kashmiri man in the town of Pulwama staged a suicide bombing that killed more than three dozen Indian security forces—the deadliest such attack in Kashmir in three decades. Jaish-e-Mohammad—a Pakistan-based terror group with close ties to Pakistan’s security establishment—claimed responsibility. India retaliated by sending jets across Pakistan-administered Kashmir and launching limited strikes, for the first time since a war in 1971. Soon thereafter, Pakistan claimed it had carried out six air strikes in Kashmir to showcase its might, and it also shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured the pilot. The confrontation, which de-escalated when Islamabad announced the pilot’s release several days later, represented the most serious exchange of hostilities in years.

Then, in August, India revoked the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, the India-administered part of Kashmir, and declared it a new territory of India. New Delhi also imposed a security lockdown in Kashmir that included the detention of hundreds of people and a communication blackout. For Islamabad, which claims Jammu and Kashmir as its own, the move amounted to a serious provocation, if not a hostile act. Pakistan retaliated by expelling India’s envoy from Islamabad and suspending trade with New Delhi. Undaunted, in the weeks that followed, senior Indian officials—including the defense and foreign ministers—turned their attention to Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which New Delhi has long claimed, and suggested they eventually planned to reclaim it.

Bilateral relations remained fraught over the last few months of the year. Islamabad issued constant broadsides against New Delhi for its continued security lockdown in Kashmir. By year’s end, an internet blackout was still in effect. Then, in December, India’s parliament passed a controversial new citizenship law that affords fast-track paths to Indian citizenship for religious minorities—but not Muslims—fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The new law angered Islamabad not just for excluding Muslims, but because of the implication—accurate but not something Islamabad likes to admit—that Pakistan persecutes its Hindu and Christian communities.

These prolonged tensions often overshadowed what was arguably the biggest story in both countries in 2019: economic struggle. India suffered its biggest economic slowdown in six years, and Pakistan confronted a serious debt crisis. The two weren’t unconnected: Given the inability of New Delhi and Islamabad to fix their economies, both governments arguably sought political advantages from the distractions of saber rattling.

Against this tense backdrop, the opening in November of a new border corridor that enables Indian Sikhs to enter Pakistan visa-free to worship at a holy shrine, which in better times could have been a bridge to an improved relationship, amounted to little more than a one-off humanitarian gesture.

Bad as these crises are, they are poised to get worse next year.

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<img src=”https://foreignpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/gettyimages-484947432.jpg?w=800&h=533&quality=80&#8243; alt=”Indian police try to detain supporters of the hardline faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Confrence (APHC) as they clash during a protest following the house arrest of APHC leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar on August 23, 2015. Geelani was placed under house arrest shortly before attempting to leave his residence to address a seminar organised by the APHC. Police used tear smoke shells and water cannons to disperse hundreds of supporters protesting Geelani’s arrest. AFP PHOTO/ Tauseef MUSTAFA (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)” class=”image -fit-3-2″>

Crisis Mode in South Asia

The good news for Americans is that a U.S.-Taliban deal likely isn’t far off; both sides are fully invested in a troop withdrawal. For Trump, the importance of troop departures will grow as the U.S. presidential election draws closer, and especially because the Washington Post’s release in December of the “Afghanistan Papers”—documents that feature senior U.S. officials admitting failure in the war—will likely solidify U.S. public opinion in favor of winding down America’s role in the 18-year war.

However, any U.S.-Taliban deal will do little to reduce violence, other than halting attacks on U.S. troops. In other words, the war will continue.

A U.S.-Taliban accord would clear the path for an intra-Afghan dialogue between the Afghan government, other political stakeholders, and the Taliban that aims to produce a cease-fire and an eventual political settlement that ends the war.

The path to intra-Afghan dialogue, however, is fraught with obstacles. Afghanistan held a presidential election in September. The preliminary results—released in December—showed President Ashraf Ghani in the lead, but with barely the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a second round of voting with the second-place finisher, his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah (who rejected the results). The close margin suggests that when final results are announced, the loser won’t accept them.

This means Afghanistan is unlikely to have a new government in place for at least another few months, and even longer if the final results are different from the initial ones and require a second vote. Due to winter weather in Afghanistan, a runoff likely wouldn’t occur until the spring. Without a new government in place, it beggars belief that Afghanistan could launch a process to establish an intra-Afghan dialogue, much less negotiate an end to the war. And even if and when an intra-Afghan dialogue is launched, the hardest of sells will be required to convince the Taliban to lay down arms and agree to share power within a political system that it has long rejected and vowed to overthrow by force.

Consequently, Afghanistan in 2020 is likely to see a withdrawal of U.S. forces before a peace agreement is in place—a demoralizing outcome for already struggling Afghan forces that would deliver another boost to the Taliban and further increase violence.

Meanwhile, the underlying tensions between India and Pakistan remain sharp. Pakistan arrested dozens of Islamist militants this past year, but New Delhi wasn’t convinced Islamabad was taking strong and “irreversible” steps against India-focused terrorists and their networks. And New Delhi’s actions in Kashmir in 2019 represented worst-case scenarios for Islamabad.

The two nuclear-armed nations will enter 2020 just one big trigger event away from war. The trigger could be another mass-casualty attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir traced back to a Pakistan-based group, or—acting on the threats issued repeatedly by New Delhi in 2019—an Indian preemptive operation to seize territory in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The two nuclear-armed nations will enter 2020 just one big trigger event away from war. The trigger could be another mass-casualty attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir traced back to a Pakistan-based group, or—acting on the threats issued repeatedly by New Delhi in 2019—an Indian preemptive operation to seize territory in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

In either scenario, escalation would be swift. Bilateral relations are much worse than they were during last February’s confrontation. Ever since its resounding reelection victory last spring, India’s ruling party has pursued its Hindu nationalist agenda in increasingly aggressive fashion—which gives it no incentive to go easy on Islamabad. Pakistan, not wanting to show weakness, will not give in easily.

The doomsday clock for the next India-Pakistan war is at a minute to midnight. Diplomatic intervention from Washington and other third parties, and cooler heads on both sides, may keep it from ticking further forward. But it’s hard to see a path to unraveling such tightly knotted tensions—or to solving Afghanistan’s unending conflict.

Michael Kugelman is Asia Program deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He can be reached on Twitter @michaelkugelman and at michael.kugelman@wilsoncenter.org Twitter: @michaelkugelman

Antichrist urges US to pull out soldiers from Iraq

Muqtada al-Sadr urges US to pull out soldiers from Iraq

TEHRAN, Dec. 30 (MNA) – The leader of the Sadr movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, announced readiness to send away the American soldiers from Iraq, threatening that Iraqis will act “another behavior” if American forces do not withdraw from Iraq.

Mehr News Agency

TEHRAN, Dec. 30 (MNA) – The leader of the Sadr movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, announced readiness to send away the American soldiers from Iraq, threatening that Iraqis will act “another behavior” if American forces do not withdraw from Iraq.

“We have previously warned against the consequences of engaging Iraq into regional and international conflicts. We have said that Iraq and its people no longer tolerate such reckless measures,” Sadr said on Monday.

He added: “If we had cooperated previously to remove the occupier through military resistance, he would not have perched on the chest of Iraq. If we cooperated in order not to endorse the humiliating agreement, what happened would not have happened.”

“Today I am ready to throw out occupiers through political and legal ways, is there anyone to help?”

He underlined that Iraq’s security should be provided by its own security forces.

He explained: “The occupation, led by Trump, took advantage of the corruption in Iraq on the one hand and the large gap between politicians and the people on the other hand.”

We do not let Iraq to get stuck in political disputes and military challenges, he added.

The Iran and Iraq Horns Unite (Daniel 8:8)

Iraq’s Sadr Says He Is Willing to Work With Iran-Backed Rivals to Oust U.S. Troops

By ReutersDec. 30, 2019

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Monday he was willing to work with Iran-backed militia groups – his political rivals – to end the United States military presence in Iraq through political and legal means.

If that does not work, he will “take other actions” in cooperation with his rivals to kick out U.S. troops. Sadr’s militia fought U.S. troops for years following Washington’s invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Trump accuses Iran over storming of US embassy

Trump accuses Iran over storming of US embassy compound in Baghdad | Iraq | The Guardian

Guardian News

Iraq: protesters set fires and throw stones at US embassy in Baghdad

Iraq

Trump accuses Iran over storming of US embassy compound in Baghdad

Iraqi Shia militia supporters break into compound after US strikes on state-sanctioned militia

Luke Harding

Tue 31 Dec 2019 09.39 EST

Donald Trump has accused Iran of orchestrating an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad after dozens of Iraqi Shia militia supporters broke into its compound after smashing a door and storming inside.

The angry demonstration followed US airstrikes on Sunday against three camps in Iraq and two in Syria. The bases belonged to the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group, which is formally part of the Iraqi army. At least 25 fighters were killed and dozens injured.

The Pentagon said the strikes were in response to a rocket attack on Friday against a US base in Kirkuk, in which a US civilian contractor was killed and four other Americans were hurt. It described them as “defensive”.

An Associated Press reporter at the embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three US soldiers on the roof.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” Trump tweeted. “Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”

The US embassy denied earlier reports from Iraq’s foreign ministry that the ambassador and his staff were hastily evacuated, as protesters surged towards the building to protest against the US.

An embassy spokesperson told CNN that the chief of the US mission in Iraq, Matthew Tueller, was away on a scheduled vacation and had left Baghdad a week ago. The embassy was under lockdown but had not been formally evacuated, the spokesperson said.

Video from the scene showed protesters climbing over the wall of the embassy and setting fires. They shouted “No, no, America!” and “No, no, Trump!”, and “Death to America!”, witnesses said. Iraqi forces fired stun grenades at those who were trying to pull down barbed wire.

The bombings have provoked outrage inside Iraq and are the most serious incident yet in an escalating conflict between American forces and armed Iranian proxies. Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi – an ally of both Iran and the US – said they were an attack on his country’s sovereignty.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, called Abdul-Mahdi on Tuesday and said the US would “protect and defend its people”. The Iraqi prime minister said his government would guarantee the safety and security of US personnel and property, the state department said.

According to reports, mourners attended funerals for some of the dead militia fighters in Baghdad. They then marched on the city’s Green Zone. Local security guards made no effort to turn them back and the crowd kept going until it reached the main US embassy gate.

Iraqi special forces were deployed around the perimeter to stop the protesters from breaking in. Mourners threw stones and water bottles at security guards. They draped flags over the fence belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah and to Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), a powerful paramilitary group of which Kata’ib Hezbollah is a part.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the Iranian-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia, and many other senior militia leaders were among the demonstrators. On Monday, Iran condemned the US strikes as “terrorism” and pro-Iranian militia leaders in Iraq vowed to carry out further attacks on US forces.

Street protests take place regularly in the Iraqi capital. In recent months, security guards have shot dead more than 450 people protesting against rampant government corruption and the growing influence of Iranian-backed groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah.

The Iraqi Horn Rises Against Babylon the Great (Daniel 7)

Protesters storm U.S. embassy in Baghdad following airstrikes

Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad

(Popular Mobilisation Forces)

By Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly

December 31, 2019 at 8:41 AM EST

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iranian-backed militia shouting “Death to America” attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

President Trump responded angrily Tuesday to the protesters’ action, charging that Iran was behind a deadly militia attack that led to the airstrikes and blaming Tehran for the embassy siege.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

Iran’s foreign minister claims U.S. is drowning the region in ‘a bucket of blood’

A spokesman for the Kataib Hezbollah militia said the demonstrators intend to besiege the embassy until the facility shuts down and U.S. diplomats leave Iraq.

But the angry demonstrators defied appeals delivered over loudspeakers by the group’s leaders not to enter the embassy compound and smashed their way into one of the facility’s reception areas, breaking down fortified doors and bulletproof glass and setting fire to the room.

American guards inside the embassy fired tear gas to keep the militia supporters at bay. U.S. troops could be seen nearby and on rooftops, their weapons drawn, but they did not open fire. Embassy civil defense workers just inside the gates attempted to put out the fires with water hoses.

The protesters also smashed security cameras, set two guardrooms ablaze and burned tires. They made a bonfire out of a pile of papers and military MREs (meals ready to eat) found in the reception area, where guards normally search visitors. Kataib Hezbollah flags were draped over the barbed wire protecting the embassy’s high walls.

The embassy’s sirens wailed continually as dense black smoke billowed into the air.

Iraqi security forces stand guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

Inside the embassy, U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers were huddled in a fortified safe room, according to two reached by a messaging app. They declined to give details but added that they felt secure.

By early afternoon, tensions had eased somewhat after an Iraqi army commander showed up and ordered Iraqi security forces, who had initially made no attempt to intervene, to prevent the demonstrators going farther inside the facility. The security forces formed an impromptu buffer between the demonstrators and the American guards inside.

Shortly after that, acting Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi appealed for calm and urged the demonstrators to refrain from entering the compound. He said in a statement that it is the government’s responsibility to protect foreign embassies.

The embassy compound lies inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which is normally off limits to ordinary people. But earlier in the morning, thousands of people walked unimpeded into the zone to join the demonstrations, as many Iraqi security forces simply mingled with the crowd.

Their chants of “Death to America” carried echoes of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, when Iranian students seized control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and detained American diplomats and other personnel there for 444 days.

Many were wearing militia uniforms and carried flags signifying their allegiance to the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, which had vowed to retaliate for the U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 militia members.

Among the crowd were some of Iran’s most powerful allies in Iraq, including Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization; Qais al-Khazali, who heads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and was once imprisoned by the U.S. military; and Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who spent years in prison in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. Embassy there.

The demonstrators daubed graffiti on the embassy walls signifying their allegiance to Iran: the names of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and powerful Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Other slogans simply read: “America get out.”

Some protesters began erecting tents nearby, indicating that they intend to remain for the long haul. Jaafar al-Husseini, a Kataib Hezbollah spokesman, said the group plans to encamp outside the embassy until it closes and all U.S. diplomats and troops leave Iraq.

U.S. Embassy officials did not respond to requests for comment, and it was not immediately clear how many U.S. diplomats or troops are trapped inside the compound, the largest U.S. diplomatic facility in the world. Opened with much fanfare over a decade ago as a symbol of American influence in Iraq, on Tuesday it seemed as much a symbol vulnerability of the United States in an Iraq in which it now has few friends.

(Tech. Sgt. Joseph Park/U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs)

The demonstration comes amid an outpouring of rage in Iraq directed against the United States for carrying out airstrikes Sunday against Kataib Hezbollah bases near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The strikes were in response to the death of an American contractor in a rocket attack last Friday on a base housing U.S. troops in Kirkuk. The United States blamed the rocket attack on the Iranian-backed group.

U.S. officials said the airstrikes were “defensive” and aimed at deterring further rocket attacks against U.S. personnel by Iranian allies in Iraq.

But in Iraq they have been widely denounced as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and of the rules governing the presence of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops based there to help in the fight against the Islamic State.

The Final Showdown Begins (Revelation 16)

Ktaib Hezbollah fighters in Anbar province, Iraq.PHOTO: JONATHAN SPYER

The U.S.-Iran Showdown Begins in Iraq

America hits Ktaib Hezbollah, one of Tehran’s most effective militias.

By Jonathan Spyer

Dec. 30, 2019 7:05 pm ET

The U.S. killed at least 25 Ktaib Hezbollah fighters on Sunday night in its first counterstrike in a decade against an Iran-aligned Iraqi Shia militia. U.S. F-15E aircraft struck three sites in Iraq and two in Syria in retaliation for Ktaib’s Friday rocket attack, which killed an American contractor and wounded four U.S. service personnel.

The war against Islamic State in Iraq looks likely to be overshadowed by a growing confrontation between Iranian proxies and the roughly 5,200 U.S. troops in the country.

Ktaib Hezbollah is one of the best-organized and most effective of the Shia militia forces that form Tehran’s main political and military instrument in Iraq. I embedded with the Ktaib in Anbar Province during Iraq’s war with Islamic State in June 2015, spent time with its fighters and commanders, and interviewed its leader, Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, “The Engineer.”

Ktaib, which claims to have 30,000 fighters, is unambiguously an Iranian proxy group, modeled after Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps created it in 2007 to fight the U.S. presence in Iraq and advance Iranian interests.

Mr. Ibrahimi, 65, is a half-Iranian native of Basra, in Shia southern Iraq. He is wanted by the U.S. for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. A Kuwaiti court sentenced him to death for this act in 2007. Some Iraqis refer to him as the country’s de facto prime minister.

Mr. Ibrahimi fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq war. He then became an adviser to the Quds Force, the external operations wing of the IRGC. He helped smuggle explosively formed projectiles during the Shia insurgency in Iraq a decade ago. He has the blood of many Western soldiers on his hands.

After the U.S. departure in 2011, Mr. Ibrahimi helped establish the Popular Mobilization Units, the Shia militias that battled ISIS. As field commander of the PMU, he remained the archetype of the IRGC-affiliated Shia Islamist professional revolutionary. That is, the type of man who has been the main instrument for the advance of Iran’s power across the Middle East over the last decade.

Even at the height of the ISIS war, Mr. Ibrahimi and his men made no secret of their affiliations, or of whom they regarded as the real enemy. I met and interviewed him outside the town of Baiji in the summer of 2015. I asked about the sources of his movement’s support. “We rely,” he told me bluntly, “on capacity and capabilities provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The Ktaib fighters with whom I embedded in the town of Husseibeh al-Sharqiyeh, east of Ramadi City, were younger, keener and better equipped than either the Iraqi Army soldiers or the representatives of other militias I met at the time.

They were also the most vividly anti-American. At the height of the struggle with ISIS, rumors of ISIS-U.S. cooperation were taken as obvious truth in their ranks. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes!” one fighter, his face burned by a recent wound, told me. “They parachute aid, weapons and clothing, and they drop it to ISIS.”

Alongside their military activities, Ktaib were engaged in unabashed criminality. In Baghdad in June 2015, I interviewed Hikmat Guwood, leader of the Albu Nimr Bedouin tribe. Mr. Guwood worked with the U.S. during the Anbar Awakening of 2006-07, when Sunni sheikhs in that province allied with the U.S. against al Qaeda. Ktaib members visited Mr. Guwood’s house, where they told him his association with the Americans meant he either had to leave the city or be killed. I met him as he was making for Erbil, in the Kurdish north, where the Ktaib’s influence did not extend.

Throughout this period and today, Ktaib Hezbollah wasn’t an underground or fringe group. It was and is deeply embedded in both the political and security structures of the official Iraqi state.

I witnessed Mr. Ibrahimi giving a briefing to security forces outside Baiji in 2015. Senior Iraqi army commanders, such as Maj. Gen. Juma’a Enad, commander of the Iraqi Security Forces in Salah al-Din Province, were present. Mr. Ibrahimi was the acknowledged senior man in the room.

Ktaib and Baghdad are still entwined today. Ktaib and other militias are closely involved in the bloody, IRGC-organized repression of demonstrations, confirmed and reported extensively by Iraqi journalists on the ground. Ktaib is also part of the Fatah alliance, the second-largest bloc in the Iraqi Parliament and an integral part of the current government. In this capacity, Ktaib works in close cooperation with larger and more-established pro-Iranian groups.

This militia edifice is the most potent enemy of the U.S. and its allies in Iraq today. Mr. Ibrahimi promised a “harsh response” to the U.S. strikes. Experience suggests he should be taken at his word.

Mr. Spyer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and at the Middle East Forum. He is author of “Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars.”