President Donald Trump designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a wing of the Iranian military, as a foreign terrorist organization. The designation is valid and is the first time ever that an arm of a foreign government has been designated as a terrorist group. The move has been considered in previous administrations but no previous POTUS had the courage to pull the trigger.
In a statement released to the press president, Trump said,
This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.
This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences. We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior.
Indeed the Administration’s action will increase the financial pressure and isolation of Iran and deprive the regime of resources it uses for its terrorist activities as the designation comes with automatic sanctions. The will be no palates of cash going to Iran as they did during the Obama years.
The Revolutionary Guard is Iran’s primary tool to execute its strategy of global terrorism, it provides funding, equipment, training, and logistical support to terrorist groups, and carries out its own terrorist attacks via the Qods Force. The Iranian regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, spending nearly a billion dollars every year to support terrorism. The regime provides funding to several terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib Hizballah, al-Ashtar Brigades, and others.
The IRGC has also executed its own terrorist attacks via its Qods Force.
- In 2011 the Qods force plan an attack in the U.S, an attempt to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., which thankfully was uncovered and prevented.
- Qods Force terrorist planning was uncovered and disrupted in many countries, including Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain, and Turkey.
- Last September A U.S. federal court found Iran and the IRGC liable for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 Americans.
- In January 2018, Germany uncovered ten IRGC operatives involved in a terrorist plot in Germany and convicted another IRGC operative for surveilling a German-Israeli group.
The IRGC, which operates front companies and institutions around the world the profits from those operations seem to be legitimate business deals but end supporting the rogue regime’s terrorist agenda. The terrorist designation hopes to stop that commerce. And it makes it easier for the U.S. to push back against Iranian terror.
Per Secretary of State Pompeo the terrorism designation and associated sanctions will take effect on tax day, April 15.
“This designation should surprise no one. For forty years, the IRGC has engaged in terrorism It pretends to be a regular military organization, but none of us should be fooled.” Pompeo added.
A transcript and video of Pompeo’s statement follow:
Good morning. I’m here to make an important foreign policy announcement concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran. Today the United States is continuing to build its maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian regime. I am announcing our intent to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including its Qods Force, as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This designation will take effect one week from today.
This is the first time that the United States has designated a part of another government as an FTO. We’re doing because the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government. This historic step will deprive the world’s leading state sponsor of terror the financial means to spread misery and death around the world.
Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not connected to the IRGC in any material way. It also gives the U.S. Government additional tools to counter Iranian-backed terrorism.
This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and surprise no one, and it builds on the more than 970 Iranian individuals and entities that the Trump administration has already sanctioned.
For 40 years, the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has actively engaged in terrorism and created, supported, and directed other terrorist groups. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled. It regularly violates the laws of armed conflict; it plans, organizes, and executes terror campaigns all around the world. From the moment it was founded, the IRGC’s mandate was to defend and export the regime’s revolution by whatever means possible. The IRGC institutionalized terrorism shortly after its inception, directing horrific attacks against the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the U.S. embassy annex in 1984 alongside the terror group it midwifed, Lebanese Hizballah. Its operatives have worked to destabilize the Middle East from Iraq to Lebanon to Syria and to Yemen.
With this designation, the Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality. The IRGC will take its rightful place on the same list as terror groups its supports: Lebanese Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Kata’ib Hizballah, among others, all of which are already designated as foreign terrorist organizations.
The long list of IRGC backed terrorist incidences is ample justification for today’s decision. I want to just give you a handful of examples.
Last September a federal court in the United States found Iran and the IRGC responsible for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 American service members. In 2011 the United States foiled an IRGC Qods Force plot right here in Washington, D.C. to bomb a restaurant. The attempt was to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States of America.
Outside of the United States, the IRGC’s terror campaign is just as active. In 2012 four Qods Force operatives were apprehended after plotting to attack Israeli targets in Turkey. In that same year, two other Qods Force operatives were arrested in Kenya for planning a bomb attack while the Qods Force also directed a bomb attack that targeted Israeli diplomats. And as recently as January 2018, German authorities uncovered 10 suspected Qods Force operatives active in their country. The IRGC supports Palestinian terror groups that target innocent civilians, and it helped create U.S. designated terror groups both in Lebanon and in Iran. And the IRGC also backs the murderous Assad regime which gasses and slaughters its own people.
Our designation makes clear to the world that Iranian regime not only supports terrorist groups, but engages in terrorism itself. This designation also brings unprecedented pressure on figures who lead the regime’s terror campaign, individuals like Qasem Soleimani. He is the commander of the Qods Force and oversees Iran’s forces deployed to advance the Islamic Revolution through terrorism and other forms of violence. He doles out the regime’s profits to terrorist groups across the region and around the world.
The blood of the 603 American soldiers the Iranian regime has found to have killed in Iraq is on his hands and on the hands of the IRGC more broadly. Inexplicably the regime has faced no accountability from the international community for those deaths. Far from being an arbitrary attack on Iran, our pressure campaign imposes just and long overdue consequences for the regime’s malign activity.
We should not also forget the IRGC’s central role in the nationwide con artistry and corruption of the regime’s leaders which they perpetrate against the regime’s own people. Other governments and the private sector will now see more clearly how deeply the IRGC has enmeshed itself in the Iranian economy through both licit and illicit means.
In just this past July, the city council of Tehran announced that the IRGC Cooperative Foundation, which manages the IRGC’s investments, has embezzled more than $1 billion from the city of Tehran. The next month, a former councilmember accused the long-time mayor of Tehran of steering contracts to the IRGC. It’s no coincidence that the mayor also formerly served as an IRGC commander and the chief of Iran’s police state. Back in 2017, Tehran arrested several IRGC commanders involved with the Cooperative Fund for corruption, including the IRGC’s financial architect, Masoud Mehrdadi.
Then there’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s old college pal, Sadeq Mahsouli. They call him “the billionaire general.” He went from being a low-level IRGC officer to one of Iran’s richest men, all thanks to scoring construction and oil contracts from companies linked to the IRGC.
The leaders of Iran are racketeers, not revolutionaries. The Iranian people deserve better than to be governed by this cadre of hypocritical and corrupt officials. They are opportunists.
And on a final note, the IRGC is also responsible for wrongly detaining U.S. persons, several of whom remain in captivity in Iran. The American people should know that we are working diligently to bring each of those individuals home.
Matt Lee of the Associated Press added some brilliant insight to the story, click here to read his take.