Assad-Allied Shia Militia May Have US M-1 Abrams Tank

Perhaps the most fundamental flaw in the flailing U.S. anti-ISIS strategy is the belief that any group willing to fight ISIS must support at least some US goals, and that any group not ISIS is better in the long run than ISIS.

Such a viewpoint ignores the near-infinite complexities of Middle East alliances and politics, ignores the well-known reality that any group that does, in part, support the US also needs to simultaneously prepare for when the US one day suddenly picks up and leaves, and allows very dangerous weapons to exfiltrate out of the semi-right hands into the really wrong hands.

The video below shows the Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuda (KSS), which is also known as the Battalion of the Sayyid’s Martyrs, cruising around in an American-made M1 Abrams tank (at around the 16-second mark of the video). The video surfaced on SOFREP, a very pro-U.S. military website that states it is run by Special Ops veterans.

About those KSS guys with our tank.

Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) are an Iraqi Shia militia formed in 2013 to protect “Shia shrines across the globe” among other fun things. It militarily supports the Assad Government in Syria, and has close ties to the Badr Organization. The Badr’s are some nasty people who excelled at killing Americans, with Iranian help, during the 2003-2010 Iraq War 2.0.

The U.S. has since 2010 been supplying the government of Iraq with M-1 tanks. The Iraqi government is denying their involvement with KSS, and claims “not to know” how they obtained the U.S.-made tank. Tanks, of course, are just darned hard things to keep track of.

According to the US Defense Department, “We have received assurances from the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces that they will use US equipment in accordance with US law and our bilateral agreements. If we receive reports that U.S.-origin equipment is being misused or provided to unauthorized users, we engage the Iraqi government in conjunction with the US Embassy to address any confirmed issues – up to the highest levels, if necessary.”

The best news of all (it is not the best news) is that if Iranian-connected militia loyal to Assad have M-1 tanks, that means the Iranians, the Syrians and the Russians, at a minimum, have access to any M-1 technology they might wish to inspect or reverse engineer, or sell on the global black market.

This war just keeps getting better (it is not getting better.)

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

5 thoughts on “Assad-Allied Shia Militia May Have US M-1 Abrams Tank”

  1. So the US is now supporting sectarian war against 90 percent of the regional and global Muslim population in order to back another regional occupation in the name of religious supremacism… Congratulations Obama, you’ve outdone even the vegetable Bush…

  2. I guess Mr. Van Buren has never heard that there are export versions of tanks, including the M1. This allows tank-producing nations like the US and Russia to export their systems to other nations while ensuring that the more advanced features are not exported. Further, he seems unaware that the M1 has been manufactured since 1979; not all M1s are new or filled with advanced technology which the Iranians would want to reverse engineer. The Iraqis received an export version of the M1A1, which hasn’t been produced in almost 25 years.

    1. True. Both the US and Russia have been exporting older models, or handicapped versions of newer models, of tanks for decades. Saddam had everything from T-54/55s to T-72s in the 1991 war.

  3. Those Abrams tanks are really poor protection I believe. I have seen a video of one, after being shot with some sort of device that hops along on the ground and goes under the tank where it explodes. Soon after the tank blew it’s turret off probably from secondary explosion of it’s own munitions. Didn’t look like there was any hope for the crew of that tank..

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