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Security

Iran's Zainabiyoun Brigade steps up recruiting in Pakistan

The Iranian IRGC has recruited more than 1,600 Pakistani Shia youth in the past six months for its Zainabiyoun Brigade to fight on behalf of Iranian interests in Syria.

By Abdul Ghani Kakar


An image that Iran used in the propaganda film called "Lovers Stand Dying" to recruit Pakistanis into the Zainabiyoun Brigade. [File]

An image that Iran used in the propaganda film called "Lovers Stand Dying" to recruit Pakistanis into the Zainabiyoun Brigade. [File]

QUETTA -- Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is continuing to recruit Pakistani Shia to fight as mercenaries for Iranian military interests in Syria, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

The IRGC's Zainabiyoun Brigade has recruited more than 1,600 new fighters [comprising predominantly Shia mercenaries] from Pakistan over the past six months, an Islamabad-based senior intelligence official told Pakistan Forward on the condition of anonymity.

"In a recent report filed before Pakistan's security establishment, senior counter-insurgency officials revealed that the actual number of fighters recruited inside Pakistan in the past six months by the Zainabiyoun Brigade could be much higher than the available statistics," the official said.

"The report indicated that most of the newly recruited fighters of the Zainabiyoun Brigade were transported to Iran via little-used and illegal routes from Pakistan," he said. "Meanwhile, a large number of fighters also went to Iran under the cover of pilgrimage."

About 4,000 Shia pilgrims from Pakistan entered Iran between November 2016 and June 2017 and never returned, according to a September 2017 Pakistani intelligence report.

Plan of action

The latest report submitted to the federal government advised that Pakistan needs an immediate action plan to counter the Zainabiyoun Brigade's militancy and anti-peace activities, the official said.

"We have concrete evidence that Iran is boosting its influence via its proxies, but rest assured it will never succeed in its nefarious designs," he said.

"Iran has named Pakistani fighters of the Zainabiyoun Brigade as guardians of holy shrines in Syria, and they are largely engaged in [battles] in those areas of Syria where the IRGC is backing [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad's army in the war," he said.

"We have a large Shia population in Pakistan, and it is our deep concern that Iran is using all its resources to gain influence here among the Shia community," Javed Nasir, a senior security official in Rawalpindi, told Pakistan Forward. "A large number of Shia scholars who graduated from Iranian [seminaries] are already working for this odious Iranian agenda in Pakistan."

"The IRGC-linked Zainabiyoun Brigade is not only involved in recruitment for Iran but is conspiring too to export the violent Iranian revolution from Tehran into Pakistan," Nasir said.

"Pakistan is not only taking other steps to foil Iranian designs in Pakistan," he said. "Our security agencies are closely watching those Iranian cultural centres that are operating in nearly all major Pakistani cities."

Cracking down on Iranian recruiters

During the past three months, Pakistani security agencies have arrested at least 15 suspects in various raids for their alleged links with the Zainabiyoun Brigade in Quetta and in Taftan, a border city in Balochistan, said Amir Mussa, a Defence Ministry official based in Quetta.

"All efforts are made to foil foreign influence in our region, and strict surveillance is under way in all bordering areas of Balochistan, especially those linked with the border of Iran and Afghanistan," he told Pakistan Forward.

"Security agencies are closely working to counter the Zainabiyoun Brigade in the country, and several key recruitment centres ... have also been eliminated in the past couple of years," he said.

"We have reports that some Zainabiyoun operatives are operating under the cover of religious scholars and have previously worked with some key Pakistani Shia scholars who graduated from seminaries in Qom Province, Iran," Mussa said.

"Zainabiyoun Brigade suspects are mainly recruiting fighters from Parachinar, Kurram tribal district, Quetta, Sialkot, Peshawar and some other parts of the country," he said.

"The suspects who are under interrogation have revealed vital information about the network of the Zainabiyoun Brigade," he said. "Based on some of that information, security agencies are taking further action to counter the anti-state activities of the stated group."

Human trafficking and death threats

"As an Iranian proxy militia, the Zainabiyoun Brigade has employed various channels for recruitment of fighters in Pakistan. Because of strict surveillance [by Pakistan], the Zainabiyoun recruiters are posing as agents involved in human trafficking," a Quetta-based senior security official who is posted at an anti-human trafficking desk told Pakistan Forward on the condition of anonymity.

Because of high unemployment in Pakistan, the jobless are vulnerable to human traffickers, he said, adding that Zainabiyoun Brigade recruiters are capitalising on this situation.

"We have reports that the Zainabiyoun Brigade moved a large number of Shia residents of Quetta, Punjab, Sindh and other areas to Iran via illegal routes," he said. "In Iran, the IRGC took them into custody."

"During interrogations, we have come to learn that the IRGC has made special detention cells for Pakistani Shia immigrants in Tehran and some other parts of the country, where Zainabiyoun Brigade scholars are engaged in brainwashing those immigrants into joining Zainabiyoun as protectors of holy shrines in Syria," he explained.

The IRGC has threatened these Pakistani Shia prisoners in Iran with capital punishment during the brainwashing process and were told they could avoid it by joining the Zainabiyoun Brigade, the official said.

"Because of fear of execution, many of these Shia prisoners have become part of the Zainabiyoun," he said.

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Comment bubble | 10-31-2018

Curse on you, Companions of Yazid! We don’t go at Jihad for money, you send your Army for money which you don’t observe. What relation do you have with Saudi Arabia? For your own interest, everything is right and for us, you are spreading sectarianism. The suicide Jihad in Syria is your production and there is no reporting for them, they are very dear to you. Though Iran is not our country, but alas, due to enmity of Ali, these companions of Yazid are still not behind in their evil and policy. Curse on you and such thinking.

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Comment bubble | 10-30-2018

Our illiterate people still consider Iran as a friendly nation

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Comment bubble | 10-29-2018

If you establish a 39-Nation alliance to kill oppressed Muslims in Yamen and send flocks of people and army there and Jewish agents defend Arab countries, it is alright.. and if a real Islamic country like Iran supports the oppressed and above all if she protects holy tombs of family of Prophet, then you call it proxy… curse on you; have some fear from Allah

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Comment bubble | 10-26-2018

Good and it is really nasty.. Iran has always harmed the Muslim world

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Comment bubble | 10-26-2018

You think just Shias are cheap, but you don’t see Sunni Mujahideen going to Kashmir and the Clerics going to Saudi Arabia. What is your concern if anyone wants to scarify his life by his own will… Understand the whole story before writing all of this… Your threats have neither frightened us nor they will… Its alright if you want to spread sectarianism; you are just finding an excuse to stop the pilgrims, go and find one; we will not step back till our Master keeps on calling us.. We are at your service, O Hussain! Countless curses at the enemies of our Master

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Reply comment | 10-26-2018

First of all, even if Iran doesn’t speak out, it is the duty of every Muslim to protect sacred places. It is the duty of every Muslim to do something practical, irrespective of if he is in Saudi Arabia, Syria or Iraq. Iran doesn’t need to recruit. We are rather thankful to Iran for taking steps to protect holy places from ISIL. Otherwise Pakistan Army should have intervened in what ISIL is doing with tombs of companions of Prophet. Iran is the only country in the world that has helped the oppressed. Which Islamic country in the world is fighting against Israel on every front for recovery of the first Kiblah except Iran; whereas Saudi Arabia has established diplomatic ties with Israel. There should have been some modesty, some esteem.

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Reply comment | 10-29-2018

Its a very well written article

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Reply comment | 11-01-2018

You are right.

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Comment bubble | 10-21-2018

Iran, Israel, India and America All of them are same Connotation of a Hadith is that around 70,000 people would accompany Dajjal from Iran, Dajjal is God of Jews and has one eye. Jews and America are friends due to the concept of honored and not honored, which means that Jews consider themselves better than Christians America and India have alliance due to Pakistan Question Why has America imposed bans at Pakistan Answer These bans and threats are for fooling the Muslims Remember whenever America threatens Iran, it is understood that Iran is going to test some new nuclear bomb or Missile; and this technology is provided by America. Iran will be and is used against Sunnis On the other hand America has given a free hand to Turkey for oil reserves in Arabia Turkey will occupy her neighboring country and path will be paved for America. Remembers invasion of Ka’ba is being prepared. But this invasion will be foiled, Imam Mahdi will then appear and the invader will be defeated in the ground of Arafat or some other plane somewhere around Ka’ba. Now my hands are tired, cannot write anymore

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Reply comment | 10-30-2018

Ha Ha… should I call your unawareness your childishness or your recalcitrance… for God sake, don’t include yourself among oppressors by hiding the facts.. whole the world knows that who is sitting in America’s lap and who is fighting against America and Israel.. believe it or not, but the fact is that only Iran, Hizbullah and Shia sect is challenging America, Israel and their allies.. according to Shia sect, America and Israel are the Devils, conceit and imperialists… fact will be revealed to you if you just review stanza and slogans of Shias.. and for God sake don’t misguide people with the reference of invasion of Kaaba and don’t protect Saud’s oppressing generation in the shelter of Kaaba.. why are you speechless at open and famous friendships of Saud’s generation with America..

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Comment bubble | 10-21-2018

Pakistan also has to bear the hard time that Syria is bearing, so we have to pre-defend our country as Maula Ali A.S said The coming time will be more precarious than the passing, so prepare for war in days of peace; May Allah fix the conditions of our country, everyone knows that anything can happen in this country; how could we be safe if our troops are not safe. Dear! for God sake stop barbarism with the Shias living in Pakistan because you will have to knock no door but our; you may refer to history if you don’t believe. May Allah keep this country, Pakistan safe. Regards God’s servant Answer

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Comment bubble | 10-21-2018

If it is true, then government should close Iranian consulates and end the terms.

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Comment bubble | 10-20-2018

Its all nonsense

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Reply comment | 10-20-2018

This is all crap sir, if anyone has gone there, he would die; and why would we be worried. Tell me if they did anything against Pakistan or made any loss to Pakistan, all the rest of it is crap.

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Comment bubble | 10-18-2018

Pakistan should be secured from Iran’s evil. Shias are our Muslim brethren but Iran has always been against Pakistan and would always remain that way.

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Comment bubble | 10-18-2018

I am in favor of this posit if it is based on reality and I demand from the current government to arrange return of the pilgrims traveling from Pakistan by end of the term of their visa. And if this post is just a disagreement, I don’t give it any importance.

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Reply comment | 10-26-2018

I demand its investigation.

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Comment bubble | 10-17-2018

Thats a lie

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Comment bubble | 10-17-2018

This obvious lie has been written in order to make hurdles in the path of pilgrims of Karbala … the writer doesn’t seem to have even known that the leader of the pilgrims getting visa also submits a type of oath that they will submit exit of their passport along with the copy .. if anyone doesn’t submit, an FIR is registered against him and he is also blacklisted … there hasn’t been any FIR against any of the leaders and no one has been blacklisted, then how will anyone go? While visa is not marked without group … ? have faith in Allah… never cross limits in biasness and anyone’s enmity…. Allah is watching.

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Comment bubble | 10-16-2018

Nonsense

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Comment bubble | 10-15-2018

Biaseness is evident from the writing, if you are concerned about Pakistan, then write about everyone; you don’t see what is happening in Bahrain and Yemen, you don’t see what Saudis are doing

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Comment bubble | 10-15-2018

Pakistan also has to bear the hard time that Syria is bearing, so we have to pre-defend our country as Maula Ali A.S said* The coming time will be more precarious than the passing, so prepare for war in days of peace May Allah fix the conditions of our country, everyone knows that anything can happen in this country; how could we be safe if our troops are not safe. Dear! for God sake stop barbarism with the Shias living in Pakistan because you will have to knock no door but our; you may refer to history if you don’t believe. May Allah keep this country, Pakistan safe. Regards God’s servant

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Comment bubble | 10-15-2018

This is all nonsense Jihad against terrorist is an order from Allah and his messenger, which is an obligation at every Muslim. Its not necessary that Jihad must be performed on Iran’s instructions. And no Muslim has to perform Jihad secretly it’s a religious and legal obligation at every Muslim.

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Comment bubble | 10-15-2018

This is nothing but an obvious lie. Don’t they witness banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Pakistan. There should have been some honor, some esteem, which you don’t have.

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Reply comment | 10-15-2018

Good reply

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Comment bubble | 10-15-2018

Iran is really supporting Bashar ul Asad and not the oppressed public…

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Comment bubble | 10-14-2018

Don’t give that infidel anything who puts an evil eye at Pakistan

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Comment bubble | 10-14-2018

It’s a duty of every Muslim to protect holy places and it’s a lie that Haram is under threat from Houthi insurgents, but shrines are definitely in danger from ISIL

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Comment bubble | 10-12-2018

Anti Iran and Anti Shia propaganda. If Saudi Arabia sends troops to kill Houthi insurgents, it’s legitimate and if Iran sends troops to confront ISIL, it’s terrorism “Hats off to your pen” is it fear from Iran or buttering for Saudi Arabia? God knows

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Comment bubble | 10-11-2018

Totally baised not tru

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Reply comment | 10-26-2018

Good

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Comment bubble | 10-11-2018

You have published a very comprehensive report. Certainly, Pakistan is already faced with danger due to such like groups and we fear that they can deteriorate internal situation in future. It is mandatory that every sort of militant be eliminated.

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Comment bubble | 10-11-2018

Misleading

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Comment bubble | 10-10-2018

Does ISI in Pakistan doesn’t know what is happening to our poor people. If they know it, an action should be taken in this regard.

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Comment bubble | 10-10-2018

Government of Pakistan has gone blind due to Saudi Rials. After voting against human rights in Yemen, now Shia community and pilgrims are being targeted.

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Comment bubble | 10-09-2018

Hahahahahahha

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Comment bubble | 10-08-2018

Sunnis are killing muslims in Iran, Syria and Iraq, but Iran will also not stay in peace.

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Comment bubble | 10-08-2018

That is all lie; if any of our sacred places gets damaged there, not a single Shia would be left in Pakistan; everyone is ready to give life at Fatwa of our leader. It is because we have not yet heard any good news at this page, every time there are lies and self-generated talks are written here. Everyone would consider going there, fighting and getting martyred blissfulness for him.

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Comment bubble | 10-07-2018

Hang anyone who looks at Pakistan with bad intention.

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Comment bubble | 10-07-2018

A marvelous article. Iran and Saudi Arabia are at front in ruining Pakistan’s peace.

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Reply comment | 10-07-2018

Iran s activities must ban in pakistan

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Comment bubble | 10-07-2018

This is completely false propaganda.

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Comment bubble | 10-05-2018

Its all fake. U wahabis forgot what u did in 80's in Afganistan against Russia...so called Jihad Its a slap on ur face

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Reply comment | 10-15-2018

It is absolutely right. Iran will remain the enemy of Muslim community.

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Reply comment | 10-18-2018

An attempt to spread sectarianism. Just propaganda.

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