Yes, Iran's IRGC is a Terrorist Organization
President Joe Biden would be making a grave mistake by delisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) blacklist. Iran’s regime is currently hindering nuclear talks that have continued in Vienna among world powers by raising this latest demand, claiming the IRGC is a “national army” and its terror designation as an FTO is a “red line.”
There is good reason why former president Donald Trump designated the IRGC as an FTO back in 2019 as part of his administration’s maximum pressure campaign that deprived Iran’s regime, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, of tens of billions of dollars. Reports indicate Tehran had only $4 billion in foreign currency reserves as a result of Trump’s sanctions.
The Biden administration, however, has adopted a pro-appeasement approach and been providing concessions to the Iranian regime. As a result, the mullahs in Tehran have been raising more demands, including the IRGC’s delisting from the State Department’s FTO list.
- The three criteria necessary to be designated in the FTO list are:
- The organization must be foreign
- The organization must engage in terrorist activity
- The organization’s activities must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
The IRGC meets all three criteria and its nature has not changed in 40 years, let alone since the initial 2019 designation.
Firstly, the IRGC is a foreign organization as it belongs to the mullahs’ regime ruling Iran.
Secondly, the IRGC has for four decades engaged in terrorist activity that continues to this day.
- On October 23, 1983, a double bombing in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, left 241 American service members, 58 French military personnel, and six civilians killed, alongside hundreds of others injured. Iran’s IRGC supported the Lebanese Hezb’allah in carrying out this bombing.
- On June 25, 1996, terrorists backed by Iran’s IRGC bombed a U.S. Air Force barracks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American airmen and wounding 498 people, mostly civilians.
- Following the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq, Iran’s IRGC went into full gear to attack and kill American soldiers. Qassem Soleimani, the former head of the IRGC Quds Force who was killed in a U.S. airstrike outside of Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020, was responsible for the deaths of over 600 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
“General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” the Pentagon reported. “He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months… culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.”
- In March 2020, Iraqi extremist groups backed by Iran’s IRGC carried out a rocket attack that killed two Americans and one U.K. citizen at an Iraqi base north of Baghdad. “The Iranian proxy group Kata'ib Hezbollah is the only group known to have previously conducted an indirect fire attack of this scale against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq," said former CENTCOM chief Gen. Frank McKenzie at the time.
Of course, the list of IRGC terrorist activities is far beyond the capacity of this article.
Thirdly, the IRGC’s activities threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security of the United States.
- On March 13, Iran’s IRGC officially claimed responsibility for launching 12 ballistic missiles from Iranian soil targeting the city of Erbil in northern Iraq. “The missiles came down in areas near a new U.S. consulate building, according to Kurdish officials,” as reported by Reuters. Iranian state media said the IRGC carried out the attack against Israeli "strategic centers" in Erbil. Israel is the U.S.’ most important and strategic ally in the Middle East.
- On March 25, the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen -- supported by the IRGC -- launched multiple drone and missile attacks targeting cities in Saudi Arabia. The Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia, came under heavy attacks.
“The Houthis launch these terrorist attacks with enabling by Iran, which supplies them with missile and UAV components, training, and expertise,” reads a statement issued by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. It is a known fact that the IRGC, with its extraterritorial Quds Force, is in charge of arming and guiding Tehran’s terrorist militias and proxies checkered across the Middle East and beyond.
- The United Arab Emirates said on January 31 that their military intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militias as the UAE hosted Israeli president Isaac Herzog.
It goes without saying that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the government of Iraq are U.S. allies and partners, and the abovementioned IRGC-supported terror attacks threaten U.S. foreign relations and economic interests.
The IRGC has proven for four decades now that an FTO designation is in its DNA. It cannot forgo such a characteristic as it would undermine its very purpose. With that said, the Biden administration should not bend the knee before the Iranian regime’s demand.
And as a rule of thumb, appeasement emboldens dictators and terrorists. The more you cave in, the more they will demand.
Image: Neil Hester