Ahmad al-Hamidawi (احمد الحميداوي) is the current leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH), an Iranian supported Shiite militia located in Iraq. Despite the fact he leads the most powerful non-state actor in the war-torn country, little information about his family history or professional career has been uncovered.
Ahmad al-Hamidawi was born in Northern Iraq in 1974. The Intelligence Ledger has proven unable to develop an accurate timeline of Hamidawi's movements, education, and relationships from 1976 through 2007.
Hamidawi entered the ranks of Kata'ib Hezbollah during the height of the Iraqi Insurgency in 2007. After receiving specialized training from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), he played a direct role in dozens of attacks on American troops, coalition forces, and non-government organizations (NGOs) throughout Iraq from 2008 to 2010. When the Syrian Civil War erupted in 2011, Hamidawi became the leader of a major detachment of KH fighters supporting the Syrian Government in operations throughout the southern region of the country. By all accounts, Hamidawi proved himself a capable manager and able tactician when overwhelmed with seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Utilizing the vacuum created by the rushed coalition withdrawal from the Republic of Iraq and simultaneous chaos of the Syrian Civil War, the Islamic State (IS) made significant territorial gains throughout the Levant in 2013 and 2014. This greatly alarmed the international community, Iraqi government, and Kata'ib Hezbollah's leadership, as IS gains threatened the geopolitical makeup of the entire region.
As part of a campaign to counter IS, Kata'ib Hezbollah summoned Ahmad al-Hamidawi back from the Syrian battlefield and gave him command of all KH forces in the Jurf al-Sakhar region of Iraq. While in this position, Hamidawi successfully halted the IS advance and ensured the ensuing stalemate did not break in favor of the aggressors. Hamidawi's actions during this time, however, were not limited to typical battlefield tasks. According to multiple UN, US, and NGO intelligence reports, Ahmad played a direct roll in the killing, kidnapping, and detention of several hundred Sunni civilians up until his transfer out of the region in 2019.
Starting in August of 2019, Hamidawi directly oversaw brutal attacks on anti-government demonstrators in several major Iraqi cities, including Baghdad. The protestors main grievances included growing Iranian influence in Iraq's government, corruption, poor public infrastructure, and a severe lack of economic opportunity. By the end of the gatherings in January of 2020, nearly six hundred civilians had died and several thousand more were injured.
In December of 2019, Hamidawi played a critical role in the planning of a major riot in Baghdad's Green Zone that nearly resulted in the US Embassy being overrun. In direct response to this act and the death of coalition personnel at the hands of KH, the United States assassinated the leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, outside of Baghdad International Airport in January of 2020. As he fell next in the chain of command, Hamidawi became leader of the militia group.
Under Hamidawi's leadership, KH has continued to target American forces and NGOs in Iraq. Several rocket attacks have targeted the US Embassy in Baghdad, while at least two KH ambushes have resulted in American resupply convoy's being set ablaze in Northern Iraq. KH has also increased its attacks against Iraqi government officials, with the most notable coming in July of 2020 with the killing of Hisham al-Hashimi. Mr. Hashimi was a well-known and widely respected Iraqi security researcher that had repeatedly decried the destabilizing roll KH and other militant groups play in Iraqi society.