visited obama

By Brooke Singman | Fox News

An Iran-linked Iraqi official who was spotted in the crowd of angry militia supporters and protesters Tuesday as some of them stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad visited the Obama White House back in 2011.

Hadi Al-Amiri’s presence at the scene of the embassy attack — where crowds chanted “Down, Down USA!” following U.S. airstrikes that killed fighters of an Iranian-backed militia — underscores how the figure once seen as a potential partner is now viewed by the U.S. government as a dangerous Iran proxy.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointedly called him out in a tweet accusing him of aiding “terrorists” in the embassy attack.

“All are pictured below outside our embassy,” he wrote.

Secretary Pompeo@SecPompeo

The attack today was orchestrated by terrorists – Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Qays al-Khazali – and abetted by Iranian proxies – Hadi al Amari and Faleh al-Fayyad. All are pictured below outside our embassy.

Amiri, Iraq’s former transportation minister and a member of the Iraqi parliament, was spotted among the supporters of the Kataib Hezbollah militia.

FLASHBACK: IRAQI OFFICIAL TIED TO IRAN GUARD CORPS AT WHITE HOUSE MEETING

The Washington Post reported Amiri’s presence at the protests outside the embassy, saying he was “in attendance.” The Associated Press also reported that Amiri was among the “commanders of militia factions loyal to Iran” who “joined the protesters outside the embassy in a strikingly bold move.”

Amiri leads the Badr Corps, one of the largest pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, and is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which is the larger network of Shiite militias.

Yet in 2011, Amiri accompanied former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and several other top Baghdad advisers on a high-profile visit to the Obama White House timed with the official wind-down of U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

Amiri’s inclusion in the trip to Washington raised eyebrows at the time due to his involvement and ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which backed the Badr Corps at the time and had been linked to several attacks on Western targets. During the rule of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Amiri served as a commander of the Badr Corps, which, at the time, had been the military wing of the Supreme Council of Iraq.

The Obama White House downplayed Amiri’s visit, pointing out that even the Bush administration reached out to Iraqis who were close to the Iranian government during Saddam’s rule. The Obama administration had taken a tough stance against the IRGC, with the Treasury Department, at the time, slapping sanctions on Iranian military officials, but Amiri’s involvement in the high-profile trip seemed to clash with their efforts.

Leader of the Conquest Coalition and the Iran-backed Shi’ite militia Badr Organisation Hadi al-Amiri speaks during a news conference in Najaf, Iraq June 12, 2018. (REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani)

David Bossie, president of Citizens United and a former 2016 Trump campaign official, tweeted Thursday that it appears former Vice President Joe Biden also was part of the 2011 session. He posted State Department records listing Biden – along with Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – as among the participants meeting with the Iraqi delegation.

David Bossie@davisswint87787id_Bossie

Swampy @JoeBiden met with leader of American Embassy attack in 2011. See @HillaryClinton schedule from @Citizens_United FIOA case. cc: @realDonaldTrump

It is unclear what Amiri’s level of involvement was in the siege at the embassy earlier this week, where hundreds of protesters stormed the embassy compound, which is one of the most heavily fortified U.S. diplomatic missions in the world.

IRAN-BACKED MILITAMEN WITHDRAW FROM SIEGE OF US EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD AS MORE AMERICAN TROOPS DEPLOYED

The violent siege, which included smashed windows and sprayed graffiti on the embassy’s wall, was said to be in protest of the deadly U.S. airstrikes which targeted the Kataib Hezbollah militia last weekend and killed 25 fighters. Those strikes had been in response to a rocket attack on an Iraqi Army base that killed a U.S. contractor and injured several American troops.

Elsewhere, demonstrators could be seen hurling rocks over the walls of the embassy compound before U.S. troops responded by firing tear gas from the roofs of the buildings.

US UPDATES IRAQ TRAVEL WARNING FOLLOWING ‘IRANIAN-BACKED TERRORIST ATTACKS’ ON BAGHDAD EMBASSY

The Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of state-allied militias — many backed by Iran — called on its supporters to withdraw in response to an appeal by the Iraqi government, saying “your message has been received.”

The protest, which ended late Wednesday, prompted the Pentagon to send hundreds of additional troops to the Middle East. During the height of the protests late Tuesday, more than 100 U.S. Marines arrived at the embassy to bolster security as President Trump denounced the actions of protesters, vowing the situation in Baghdad “will not be a Benghazi.”

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack on the embassy. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted by state media on Tuesday as warning the U.S. against any “miscalculation” in the worsening standoff.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday that the militiamen and their supporters are “not protesters.”

“These were terrorists that are organized, trained and equipped by the Iranian regime,” she said.

The U.S. and Iran have sought influence over Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Hussein reign. Iran has close ties to Iraq’s Shiite majority and many of its major political factions. Its influence has steadily grown since then.

Iran helped to mobilize tens of thousands of mostly Shiite militiamen to battle the Islamic State group when it stormed across northern and western Iraq in 2014 as the armed forces collapsed. In the subsequent campaign against the extremists, the U.S. and Iran both provided vital aid to Iraqi forces, who eventually declared victory in December 2017.

The political influence of the Iran-backed militias has risen in recent years, and their allies dominate the parliament and the government.

In addition to deploying additional troops to the Middle East, the Trump administration has also updated its travel warning for Iraq.

“On December 31, 2019, the Embassy suspended public consular services, until further notice, as a result of damage done by Iranian-backed terrorist attacks on the Embassy compound,” the State Department said Thursday.

Fox News’ Lucia Suarez Sang and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News.

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