US Intelligence Demonstrates Power in Targeted Killing of Militia Leader in Iraq
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A portrait of Abu Baqr al-Saadi, a prominent leader of Kataib Hezbollah killed in a strike a day earlier by a US drone in Baghdad, is plastered on a car during his funeral in Baghdad, Feb. 8, 2024. – AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images

Former CIA Analyst Foresees Potential Campaign of Targeted Killings

By The Smartencyclopedia Staff

The recent assassination of Wissam Mohammed al-Saadi, a commander of the Iran-allied Kataib Hezbollah militia in Iraq, highlights the robust capabilities of US intelligence and may signify the beginning of a targeted killing campaign, according to a former CIA official.

Al-Saadi, implicated in the killing of three US soldiers in Jordan last month, was the target of a pinpoint drone strike in Baghdad on Wednesday. The strike successfully destroyed his car without causing civilian casualties, showcasing the precision capabilities of US military operations.

Dr. Ken Katzman, a former CIA analyst specializing in Iran and its allies, suggested that the assassination signals strong intent from the US. He believes it could mark the initiation of a series of targeted killings, similar to the approach taken against groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

According to Dr. Katzman, the intelligence operation leading to the strike would have involved extensive efforts. Gathering information on the target’s movements, ensuring a lack of civilian presence, and strategically placing weaponry are intricate tasks that require meticulous planning.

The US military leverages a diverse set of intelligence capabilities, ranging from satellite imagery to signal intelligence monitoring communications and human sources. Additionally, new precision capabilities, such as the R9X Hellfire missile with blades instead of explosives, allow for strikes in busy areas while minimizing the risk of civilian casualties.

Dr. Katzman anticipates that these capabilities will make targeted strikes against high-value militia leaders an attractive option as the US responds to recent provocations. He emphasizes that leaders associated with groups like the Houthis are not immune to such targeted killings.

“The Houthi leaders are not immune from this type of targeted killing. These guys in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen are going to face some real hardship if they continue [to attack the US]. They are going to face a determined and long-term campaign,” Dr. Katzman stated.

Militias in Iraq and Syria have carried out over 150 strikes against US bases, with the recent Jordan attack being the first to result in the death of US soldiers. The US response is expected to be part of ongoing campaigns in the Middle East, reflecting a commitment to addressing threats posed by various groups.

Following al-Saadi’s assassination, the Iraqi defense ministry called for the departure of US forces, citing concerns about civilian lives and international laws. The incident has sparked renewed debate over the presence of US forces in the region and their impact on Iraq’s stability.

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