The Shia Krays: The whole of Iraq is being held to ransom

It’s It’s been only six weeks since the death of the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, but already there are a number of local hardmen vying to take his place. Most notable are his sidekicks, the Kray twins of the Shia world: Qais al-Khazali and his brother Laith.

Qais and Laith who? Unless you’ve scanned Washington’s latest list of designated global terrorists, these two names won’t be familiar. Yet when I mentioned the brothers in a Baghdad teahouse a few weeks ago, folk lowered their voices and looked surreptitiously around, as if discussing the Krays in a pub in 1960s Bethnal Green.

The Khazalis lead an Iran-backed Shia extremist group called the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous. Financed by Soleimani for nearly a decade and a half, it’s considered ruthless even by Iraqi militia standards.

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