Al-Maliki is the number two man in the Dawa Party. Born in Babil Province, he fled Iraq for Iran in 1980 when Saddam Hussein made it a capital crime to belong to the revolutionary Shiite Dawa Party, which was working for an Islamic state. He later left Tehran for Damascus, where he was in Dawa’s political office. The Iraqi Dawa was engaged in anti-Western attacks in Lebanon during the 1980s, and helped form the Lebanese Hizbullah in 1984. It is not clear if al-Maliki had been involved in any of those activities.