by WorldTribune Staff, April 8, 2019
The chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned that U.S. military assets in the Middle East could be targeted by Iran if the Trump administration declared the IRGC a terrorist organization, which it did on April 8.
“If the Americans take such a stubborn measure and endanger our national security we will put in place counter-measures in line with the police of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC’s commander-in-chief, said.
Under those circumstances, U.S. forces would no longer be safe in the region, Jafari said.
The U.S. State Department on April 8 declared that it intends to designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) “in its entirety, including the Qods Force.”
“This is a historic step to counter Iran-backed terrorism around the world,” the State Department said.
On April 15, the IRGC will be added to the State Department’s FTO list, which includes 67 other terrorist organizations including Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib Hizbullah, and al-Ashtar Brigades – all of which are supported by Iran.
In a statement to the press regarding the designation, the State Department said:
- The IRGC FTO designation highlights that Iran is an outlaw regime that uses terrorism as a key tool of statecraft and that the IRGC, part of Iran’s official military, has engaged in terrorist activity or terrorism since its inception 40 years ago.
- The IRGC has been directly involved in terrorist plotting; its support for terrorism is foundational and institutional, and it has killed U.S. citizens. It is also responsible for taking hostages and wrongfully detaining numerous U.S. persons, several of whom remain in captivity in Iran today.
- The Iranian regime has made a clear choice not only to fund and equip, but also to fuel terrorism, violence, and unrest across the Middle East and around the world at the expense of its own people.
- The Iranian regime is responsible for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq since 2003. This accounts for 17% of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies.
- This action is a significant step forward in our maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian regime. We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activities until Tehran abandons this unacceptable behavior.
“The IRGC has engaged in terrorist activity since its inception 40 years ago,” the State Department said.
The State Department cited several instances of IRGC terror activity, including its role in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Beirut which killed 19 Americans.
More recently, the IRGC, mostly through the Qods Force, has plotted attacks in Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain, and Turkey, the State Department said.
Other terror activity tied to the IRGC:
- A 2011 plot to attack the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. on American soil, was foiled.
- In 2012, IRGC Qods Force operatives were arrested in Turkey for plotting an attack and in Kenya for planning a bombing.
- In January 2018, German authorities uncovered ten IRGC operatives involved in a terrorist plot in Germany, and convicted another IRGC operative for surveilling a German-Israeli group.
“The IRGC continues to provide financial and other material support, training, technology transfer, advanced conventional weapons, guidance, or direction to a broad range of terrorist organizations, including Hizbullah, Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib Hizballah in Iraq, al-Ashtar Brigades in Bahrain, and other terrorist groups in Syria and around the Gulf,” the State Department said.
In addition to its support of proxies and terrorist groups abroad, Iran “also harbors terrorists within its own borders, thereby facilitating their activities. Iran continues to allow Al Qaida (AQ) operatives to reside in Iran, where they have been able to move money and fighters to South Asia and Syria. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department identified and sanctioned three senior AQ operatives residing in Iran and noted that Iran had knowingly permitted these AQ members, including several of the 9/11 hijackers, to transit its territory on their way to Afghanistan for training and operational planning,” the State Department said.