Perspectives Terrorist group profile

The Zainabiyoun Brigade

There does not appear to be any limit to which Iran is sponsoring – allegedly – terrorist groups around the world.

Terrorist group profiles

The purpose of this briefing series is to inform readers on the basics of little-known terrorist groups. Information will be gathered from reputable sources and include the nature of the group’s ideology, its area of activity, strength (if known) and a list of recent (within the last five years) actions. Borealis hopes that readers will be in a position to learn more about the international terrorism landscape.

Group name

Zainabiyoun Brigade, created in aftermath of Syrian civil war in approximately 2013 and takes its name from the Sayeeda Zainab mosque in central Damascus, hit by a rocket from ISIS that year.


Linked to Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); Shia Islamist (largely Pakistani Shia); US Treasury placed the Zainabiyoun Brigade on its financial blacklist in January 2019

Area of activity

Syria, Iran


Believed to be up to 1,000 fighters

Latest attacks

2021 ‘assassinations’ in Karachi; 2019 killing of two bodyguards of Pakistani religious scholar


Recent Iranian airstrikes in Pakistan targeting Jaysh al Adl and retributive strikes by Pakistan in Iran targeting Baloch separatists are raising the tension between the two nations. While the Zainabiyoun Brigade may have been formed to protect Shia in Syria from ISIS their activities have not been limited to that area. Pakistan also has a large Shia population (estimated at 10-15% of the country) and is home to many Sunni Islamist jihadists. The latter have attacked the former over the years. As Iran sees itself as the protector of the world’s Shia we can expect it to continue to support the Brigade. Should the Pakistanis believe it is behind attacks on its soil expect more retribution against Iran.


Amid Rising Tensions With Iran, Pakistani Police Say Member Of Iranian-Backed Militant Group Arrested In Karachi (

The Zainabiyoun Brigade: A Pakistani Shiite Militia Amid the Syrian Conflict – Jamestown

ANALYSIS – Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade could become Pakistan’s new national security problem (

Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade ‘still a threat’ in Pakistan despite crackdown | Arab News

Ban looms for Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade in Pakistan (

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.