Admin Designates Iranian Fighting Force as Terror Group, in Global First
By Adam Kredo
April 8, 2019
The Trump administration formally announced on Monday that
it is designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC—the regime's
paramilitary fighting force—as a terrorist entity, the first such designation
by the United States against a foreign country's military, according to U.S.
The designation represents the strongest salvo yet by the
Trump administration to choke off Iran's international resources and target its
regional terror operations, which continue nearly unfettered in hotspots such as
Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.
The IRGC and its affiliates are responsible for the deaths
of more than 600 Americans and many other citizens in the region as part of the
Islamic Republic's efforts to foment unrest across the globe. The terror
designation will have a wide-ranging impact on Iran as it struggles to keep its
economy afloat amid a flurry of new sanctions issued by the Trump
Iran has already vowed to take punitive actions against the
United States as a result of the designation, which could cripple many key
sectors of the Iranian economy due to the IRGC’s involvement in a range of
Tehran’s business ventures.
"The Trump Administration is taking this unprecedented
step as part of a broader effort to counter Iran-backed terrorism around the
world," the White House said in a fact sheet on the decision. "The
Administration's action will increase the financial pressure and isolation of
Iran and deprive the regime of resources it uses for its terrorist
"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," the White House said.
In making the decision to designate the IRGC, which has
been rumored for some time, the White House considered the fighting force’s
near total penetration of Iran’s society and economy. Any international
government or business that is caught dealing with Iranian interests connected
to the IRGC could face new sanctions.
"This action puts other governments and the private
sector on notice about the nature of the IRGC, which operates front companies
and institutions around the world to fund terror," the White House said.
"The profits from what appear to be legitimate business deals can end up
supporting the Iranian regime's terrorist agenda."
"The Iranian regime employs terrorism as a central
tool of its statecraft and uses the IRGC to direct and carry out its global
terrorist campaign," according to the White House. "The IRGC provides
funding, equipment, training, and logistical support to terrorist groups."
The IRGC is known to conduct operations outside of Iran's
borders, including assassination and terror plots dating back decades.
"The IRGC has been directly involved in terrorist
plots in numerous countries," the White House noted. "In 2011, the
IRGC Qods Force plotted a brazen attack on the Saudi Ambassador to the United
States in Washington, D.C., that was uncovered and thwarted."
"IRGC Qods Force activity has been uncovered and
disrupted in Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain, Turkey, and
others," the White Hosue disclosed in announcing the designation. "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 a number of terrorist
groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib
Hizballah, al-Ashtar Brigades, and others," the White House said.
"These sanctions help cut off revenues the regime uses to fund terrorism,
promote global instability, fund nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and
enrich its leaders."
Congressional critics of Iran were quick to celebrate the
"I applaud President Trump and his administration for
taking the long overdue step of designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization," Sen. Ted Cruz (R.,
Texas) said in a statement. "I have called on subsequent administrations to
acknowledge this basic fact, and in 2015 and 2017 I introduced legislation that
would have written it into U.S. code."
"Today's announcement should be followed by additional
measures to do exactly that, as well as to hold the IRGC accountable for the
full range of its additional malign and sanctionable activities, including
ballistic missile proliferation, participating in Iran's drive for nuclear
weapons, the war in Yemen, human rights atrocities, bolstering the murderous
Assad regime in Syria, and financing Hezbollah," Cruz said.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), head of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, also backed the decision, saying the IRGC should not be given
a pass to continue its terror operations.
"The IRGC's elite Quds Force was previously
designated, but this did not dissuade Iran from using its funding, weapons, and
personnel to engage in deadly violence around the world," McCaul said in a
statement. "As we learned last week, Iran was responsible for the deaths of
over 600 U.S. service members during the Iraq War."
"This designation ends the façade that the IRGC is
part of a normal military," he said. "They behave like a terrorist
organization and will now be treated accordingly."