August 15, 2020
An Iran-backed Afghan militant group called the Fatemiyoun Brigade vowed on August 14 to carry out its fight until the “annihilation of Israel” and creating the “new Islamic civilization.
The Fatemiyoun is made up of Afghans deployed in Syria by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ (IRGC) extraterritorial military and intelligence arm, the Qods Force. They have been on the frontlines of Tehran’s military operations in support of Bashar al-Assad, supplying manpower Iran does not want to commit to foreign battles.
The militant group held its first “international conference” in Mashhad on August 13, in collaboration with Astan Qods Razavi, an ultra-rich shrine and a bastion for Iran’s hardliner clerics. The event was attended by members of the group and their families with Fatimid flags identical to those of the Lebanese Hezbollah’s.
Sayyid Elias, known as the “Senior Commander of the Fatimids”, was the keynote speaker at the gathering.
While expressing his loyalty to the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the senior Afghan commander vowed that in addition to the liberation of Quds (Jerusalem), the Fatemiyoun will carry out “jihad” toward creating the “new Islamic civilization.”
The new Islamic civilization is the fifth stage of a vague plan proposed by Khamenei.
“Two stages of the plan, namely the Islamic Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic government, have been completed so far,” Khamenei has maintained, adding, “In the third and fourth stages an [international] Islamic State and society should be founded to pave the way for the emergence of the Shi’ites’ Hidden Imam.”
At the end of the conference in Mashhad, special messages were read to the participants from the leader of the Bahraini Shiites Sheikh Issa Qassem, the cultural attaché of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Sheikh Akram Barakat, as well as several commanders of the Fatemiyoun.
The Iranian government has never officially published a report on the number and status of Fatemiyoun forces.
One of the brigade’s commanders, Samad Rezaei said in an interview on September 1, 2018, that under the Fatemiyoun, a total of 80,000 Afghans were sent to fight in the Syrian civil war. The militant group’s cultural director, Zuhair Mohajer, also announced in December 2017 that more than 2,000 Afghans had been killed in the Syrian civil war.
In return for sending these Afghans to Syria, the Islamic Republic government pays them a few hundred dollars a month and legal residence permits in Iran. Millions of Afghan refugees live in Iran often without documentation and subject to discrimination by the state. To earn legal status some are recruited to fight for the Islamic Republic.