Today, the Secretary of State announced his intent to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This designation is a historic step to counter Iran-backed terrorism around the world.
The IRGC – primarily through its Qods Force – is the primary arm of the Iranian government that carries out and directs Tehran’s dangerous and destabilizing global terrorist campaign. The IRGC provides funding, equipment, training, and logistical support to a broad range of terrorist and militant organizations, totaling approximately one billion dollars annually in assistance. The IRGC has also been directly involved in terrorist plotting, malign activity and outlaw behavior in many countries, including Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain, and Turkey, among others.
This designation will have a significant impact. It is the first time that the United States has designated a part of another government as an FTO. This action underscores that the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism makes it fundamentally different from any other government. Iran employs terrorism as a central tool of its statecraft; it is an essential element of the regime’s foreign policy. This designation also gives the United States Government additional tools to counter Iranian-backed terrorism. It will increase the financial pressure and isolation of Iran, and starve the government of resources it could devote to its terrorist pursuits.
Other governments and the private sector will also be on notice about the full scope of the IRGC’s malign activities. The IRGC is integrally woven into the Iranian economy, operating front companies and institutions around the world that engage in both licit and illicit business activity. The profits from what appear to be legitimate business deals could end up unwittingly supporting Iran’s terrorist agenda.
The United States will continue to increase the financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its embrace of terrorism, until Tehran abandons this malign behavior.