Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Qi Card Allegedly Involved In Ghost Hashd Fighter Scheme

On January 24 Bana Abdul Hussein the head of Qi Card was found guilty of abusing public funds and given four years in prison. The Qi Card was responsible for distributing government salaries and pensions and was widely praised for modernizing the system. Hussein has been accused of helping pro-Iran Hashd groups to skim off the salaries of thousands of fake Hashd fighters. 


In August Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazemi formed a new committee to investigate corruption. That led to an arrest warrant for Bana Abdul Hussein in September. He tried to flee the country with the aid of Shib al-Zaidi the secretary general of Kataib Imam Ali, a pro-Iran Hashd faction, but was arrested on September 17.


Hussein has been accused of assisting pro-Iran Hashd factions of creating fake employees. Up to 70,000 ghost Hashd fighters were reportedly registered with the Qi Cards under a scheme created by former deputy head of the Hashd Commission Abu Muhandis. This was part of a number of alleged deals Hussein made with Shiite politicians and Hashd leaders to maintain his business including with Ammar Hakim the head of the Hikma list, Zaidi mentioned above, and Nasser al-Shammari the head of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba another Hashd group. Ghost employees have existed in the Iraqi government for years now as a standard form of corruption for higher officials to skim off their salaries and enrich themselves and their organizations. Baghdad has repeatedly said it is attempting to end the practice and yet it continues because those at the top wish it to. The Qi Card case was just the latest example.




Agence France Presse, “First arrests in Iraq PM’s anti-corruption drive: sources,” 9/18/20


Aldroubi, Mina, “Two senior Iraqi officials jailed for corruption,” The National, 1/24/21


Knights, Michael, “Back into the Shadows? The Future of Kata’ib Hezbollah and Iran’s Other Proxies in Iraq,” CTC Sentinel, October 2020


Al Mada, “ISIS incubates in Diyala reveal the ghost file: half of the army is only on paper,” 1/4/21


Mamouri, Ali, “US shakes up Iraqi factions with reported warning on militias,” Al Monitor, 9/25/20


Al-Ruabie, Azhar, “Corruption continues to threaten Iraq’s stability,” Al Monitor, 10/8/20


Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Soleimani’s shadow: How the general’s death upended Iranian strategy in Iraq,” Middle East Eye, 1/2/21


Worth, Robert, “Inside the Iraqi Kleptocracy,” New York Times, 7/29/20


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