Destructive Role in Middle East
An extensive study on conduct of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) over the past three decades has established that the IRGC has been meddling in the affairs of all 14 Muslim countries in the region. These activities demonstrate different forms and degrees of intervention.
The joint study by the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ), two Brussels-based NGOs, established that meddling in the affairs of other regional countries is institutionalized and the IRGC top brass has been directly involved.
The uniquely broad overview of the extent of the IRGC's meddling in the region has showed that these activities have been stepped up since 2013 and have found a new impetus following the nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1.
The study established that the IRGC is directly involved in the hidden occupation of four particular countries: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. In all four, the IRGC has a direct, considerable military presence. In the summer of 2016, there were close to 70,000 Iranian regime proxy forces present in Syria.
The IRGC is directly meddling in the internal affairs of at least 8 countries, or it is plotting against their governments. These countries include Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan.
The study established that on the basis of available information, the IRGC has set up terrorist affiliates or networks in at least 12 regional countries.
One of the most striking findings of the report was the fact that terrorist activities related to the IRGC have been carried out in 13 out of the 14 countries, with the sole exception being Oman, a nation that has helped the Iranian regime to evade sanctions.
The IRGC has also conducted spying and intelligence activities in 12 countries. Most of these countries have arrested or prosecuted the regime's spies. The IRGC has sent weapons and explosives on a wide scale to all 14 counties.
In a press conference in Washington, DC on February 14, the National Council of Resistance of Iran exposed the headquarters and 14 IRGC centres where the IRGC trains its foreign mercenaries. The information was obtained by the sources of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside the Iranian regime, including within the IRGC. According to those sources, the camps have been divided based on the nationality of the trainees and the type of training. Both terrorist training and military training for militias are provided, enabling them to better infiltrate and advance the regime’s regional objectives.
Every month, hundreds of forces from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon -- countries where the regime is involved in frontline combat -- receive military training and are subsequently dispatched to wage terrorism and war. Smaller groups are also trained in other countries in order to conduct terrorist acts. In January 2007, the MEK exposed the details of some 32,000 Iraqi agents of the Iranian regime who were operating within Iraq
The study established that the IRGC’s meddling is not limited to the military sphere and it has a defining role in Tehran’s foreign policy.
In the ruling theocracy’s power structure, foreign policy is shaped by the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
As such, the development and implementation of policies toward some countries have officially been relegated to the IRGC. In this regard, the IRGC has effectively taken control of the regime's foreign policy through many of its embassies. The embassies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrain and Azerbaijan can be counted in this category.
In addition to the aforementioned countries, the IRGC has dominance in foreign policy when it comes to Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman.
In countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the regime's ambassadors hail from the ranks of the IRGC or are chosen from individuals who are close to the IRGC. This is done in order to enable the IRGC to carry out its activities and to advance its agenda by exploiting opportunities awarded by the diplomatic immunity of the embassy and the ambassador.
For example, IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, the head of the Iraq affairs desk at IRGC, was appointed as the Iranian regime ambassador to Iraq in January 2017. He is a senior advisor to the Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was in charge of Iraqi para-military groups affiliated to the Iranian regime, and who oversaw the operations against Coalition Forces in Iraq, resulting in death of hundreds of them.
The report established that while the IRGC is the most significant economic powerhouse in Iran and has dedicated its financial and economic prowess to meddling in other countries, the extensive scope of the meddling has been a very heavy burden on the Iranian economy.
Over the past five years, Tehran has spent over $100B for IRGC operations in Syria alone, a large portion of which was provided through the Khamenei office's secret budget allocations. The money is spent on procuring weapons and paying for the Syrian army's expenses. The regime pays about $1B a year for salaries of forces tied to the IRGC, including armed forces, militias and Shiites protected by the regime. IRGC Brigadier General Rostam Ghasemi directs the logistics command centre for the war in Syria and is the representative of Khatam-Al-Anbia conglomerate, which is owned by the IRGC. Previously, he was the commander of Khatam al-Anbia as well as the oil minister under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The IRGC has an intelligence unit that functions in parallel to the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). More importantly, the IRGC has expanded its own intelligence activities throughout the region and it has set up various intelligence posts in a number of countries in recent months.
According to the study, IRGC surrogates are in no way limited to Shiite groups, even though Tehran has thus focused its attention on Shiites in various countries of the region, aggravating sectarian tensions while recruiting forces to set up groups and militias tied to the IRGC.
The common theme among militias formed by the IRGC is that they consider themselves to obey and to follow the command of Khamenei.
At the same time, the regime's violence and crimes in other countries in the region under the banner of Shiite Islam and the suppression of Sunnis has provoked a backlash, spawning the rise of groups like ISIS (Daesh) that seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their wrath and brutality to the four corners of the globe.
The report recommended the following steps:
1.Enforcing Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council and in particular stopping the regime's missile activities and its smuggling of weapons to other countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon
2.Designating the IRGC and all its affiliates as Foreign Terrorist Organizations in the US and placing them on similar lists in Europe and the Middle East
3.Sanctioning all financial sources and companies affiliated with the IRGC
4.Banning any and all purchases and sales of weapons by the IRGC and its affiliates
5.Expelling the IRGC, Hezbollah and other groups affiliated to it from all the countries of the Middle East, especially Syria and Iraq
6.Initiating international efforts to disband paramilitary groups and terrorist networks affiliated with the Quds Force in the region.
While the spread of war and terrorism in the Middle East has posed an enormous threat to global peace and stability, drawing many world players into proxy wars, a critical and urgent question needs to be answered: what are the foundation and root causes of these conflicts and who is to blame for creating this catastrophic situation? The answer will lead to an appropriate solution for ending the warfare and supporting peace and stability in the world.
This report describes the genesis, objectives and scope of the meddling of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in regional affairs.
As will be developed in the first section of this study outlining the intentions underlying the founding of the IRGC over 38 years ago, the formation of a military force steeped in ideological motivations outside the framework of a regular army has only served to protect the dictatorship of the velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule) as well as aggressive expansionism and the export of terror under the banner of Islam.
Therefore, the IRGC’s raison d'être is exclusively summed up in domestic suppression and interference in the affairs of other countries with the aim of expanding the Iranian regime's malign influence.
Meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and particularly exporting terrorism and fundamentalism are not marginal policies for the clerical regime. Along with domestic suppression, it represents a strategic pillar for Tehran’s survival and endurance. The failure to understand this has led to misleading analyses with respect to the actual powers and capabilities of the clerical regime.
The Iranian regime has focused its attention on Shi’ites in various countries of the region, aggravating sectarian tensions while recruiting forces to set up groups and militias tied to the IRGC. However, at the same time, Tehran has also been helping Sunnis terrorist groups in order to pursue its objective.
The common element among militias formed by the IRGC is that they consider themselves to obey and to follow the command of the regime's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. They resort to violence and criminal activities to advance the expansionist goals of the clerical regime in the region. The weapons and funds for these groups are supplied by the IRGC.
At the same time, the regime's violence and crimes in other countries in the region, carried out under the banner of Shi’ite Islam, and the suppression of Sunnis has provoked a backlash, spawning the rise of groups like ISIS (Daesh) who seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their wrath and brutality to the four corners of the globe.
In evaluating the IRGC's meddling in 14 Muslim countries in the region, it is clear that there is no one immune to the Iranian regime's expansionist agenda and terrorism carried out through the IRGC.
A broad overview of the extent of the IRGC's meddling in the region shows that it is directly involved in the hidden occupation of four particular countries: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Clearly, this occupation no longer has a hidden aspect in Syria. In the summer of 2016, there were close to 70,000 Iranian regime proxy forces present in that country.
The regime is directly meddling in the internal affairs of or plotting against the governments of at least 8 countries: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan. On the basis of available information, the IRGC has set up terrorist affiliates or networks in no less than 12 regional countries.
Its terrorist activities have hit 13 countries, while Oman has acted as a political intermediary with the regime helping it to circumvent sanctions. The IRGC has also conducted spying and intelligence activities in 12 countries. Most of these countries have arrested or prosecuted the regime's spies.
The IRGC has sent a large and varied supply of weapons and bombs to 14 counties. Of course, the activities of the IRGC Quds Force are not limited to the Middle East. Brigadier General Salar Abnoush, the deputy coordinator of the IRGC's Khatam al-Anbia headquarters, said in a speech marking the death of the group's slain forces: "The lovers of velayat (Khamenei) will always obey his command and know no bounds in protecting him." He added, "The world must be certain that the IRGC will soon be formed in the U.S. and Europe."
Subsequent to the foundation of the IRGC in 1979 and especially after the formation of the extraterritorial Quds Force in the 1980s, the terrorist group expanded much like a cancer in the region, beginning from Iraq and spreading to the rest of the region, bringing with it the scourge of war and terrorism. At the core, of this armed force there is a fundamentalist and terrorist ideology and has no other stated or implicit purpose than expanding such terrorism and extremism.
A wide-ranging assessment of the IRGC's objectives and scope of activities in the Middle East would clearly illustrate the root cause of war and terrorism in the region while steering us to an effective and firm solution to combat this global calamity.
The IRGC's Key Objectives and Mandate
The Foundation of the Religious Dictatorship in Iran on the Basis of the Principle of Velayat-e Faqih
After usurping power in February 1979, the clerical regime consolidated its power on the basis of a principle called the velayat-e faqih (the absolute rule of clerics or mullahs). At the core of this type of state lies the concept that the Islamic jurisprudent proclaimed as a vali-e faqih (Supreme Leader) is claimed to be the heir to the Prophet and a representative of the last (12th) Shi’ite Imam. On this basis, the supreme leader has full and absolute authority over the affairs of the entire Muslim Ummah (nation).
Accordingly, no geographic borders or nation-states are recognized as legitimate when it comes to the affairs of the Muslim world. It is on this foundation that the regime's export of terrorism and fundamentalism rests and becomes an inseparable and strategic component of its national security.
The preamble of the regime's constitution explicitly states, "With respect to the Islamic content of the Iranian Revolution, which was a movement for the victory of all the oppressed people over their oppressors, the constitution prepares the ground for continuing this revolution at home and abroad.
Specifically, it strives to expand international relations with other Islamic movements and people in order to pave the way for the formation of a single, universal community, in accordance with the Qur’anic verse, 'Verily, this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore Serve Me (and no other)' (21: 92), to also assure that the continuous struggle for the emancipation of the deprived and oppressed nations of the world is strengthened."
Mohammad-Javad Larijani, a foreign policy advisor to the Iranian regime, described the clerics' foreign policy on August 7, 1989, as such: "We have a major place in the World of Islam. There is no country other than Iran that has the ability to lead the Islamic World. And, this indicates a historical role."
The IRGC: The Primary Force for Preserving the Velayat-e Faqih Dictatorship and the Main Exporter of Terror
The Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami, or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was formed in May 1979 only three months after the establishment of the clerical regime in Iran. The name and identity of this entity makes no reference to "Iran," because its mandate goes beyond the geographic boundaries of Iran. It is the Supreme Leader's main instrument for establishing an “Islamic Caliphate.”
Article 1 of the IRGC charter that was written in 1979 states: "The IRGC is an institution under the supreme command of the leader and its goal is to protect Iran’s Islamic revolution and its achievements and to continually attempt to realize divine ideals and to expand the rule of divine law on the basis of the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran while fully strengthening the defensive structure of the Islamic Republic through cooperation with other armed forces and military training and organization of popular forces."
Article 11 of the same charter deals with personnel training and states: "The training of the members of the IRGC will occur on the basis of the guidelines of the velayat-e faqih in the ideological, political, and military arenas in order to obtain the required skills and ability to carry out its mandated missions." Article 47 states, "When it comes to political and ideological matters, the IRGC is subordinate to the velayat-e faqih."
These official statements clearly underline two points: The IRGC is under the full command and authority of the vali-e faqih (Supreme Leader) and its objectives are to "preserve the Islamic revolution," and to " realize divine ideals and to expand the rule of divine law." Hidden deep under the veneer of Islamic narratives and phrases regarding divine law lies the IRGC's practical objective to preserve and to protect the clerical regime through domestic suppression, influence over the affairs of other regional countries and terrorism.
A veteran commander of the IRGC, Brigadier General Ahmad Gholampour, said in an interview with the state-run Fars: "The army's duty is to protect the borders and geographical boundaries of Iran. But, the IRGC does not have the word "Iran" in its title. This means that it seeks to defend the Islamic revolution and its achievements without regard to particular borders. This will add to our work and responsibilities. The IRGC has a duty to interfere in whatever area where it senses danger to the revolution. We have a free and open hand to get involved in any geographical location and any political, social or cultural matter."
Invitation to spark the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; Beginnings of Export of Terrorism
At the time of the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979, the ruling clerics had no intention of losing any opportunity to advance their aggressive policies and to expand their interference in neighbouring countries and especially in Iraq. Iraq has a 1,200 km long border with Iran. It has a Shi’ite majority with a number of major revered Shi’ite shrines located in the country. This made it a perfect target for Ayatollah Khomeini to export his fundamentalist ideology and terrorist tactics.
Since day one of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Khomeini called war a "divine blessing." After June 1982, when Iraq no longer occupied Iranian territory, it was only the Iranian regime that insisted on a continuation of the devastating conflict.
Khomeini's official motto was to "liberate Quds (Jerusalem) through Karbala." By relying on this war, the regime was able to consolidate its power, rationalizing internal suppressive measures while depicting an array of crises and challenges as an outcome of the war.
For years, Khomeini insisted on prolonging the war. In the end, however, his regime was defeated, and in July 1988, Khomeini finally drank what he described as “the chalice of poison” by agreeing to a ceasefire.
The war left over a million dead and another million injured on the Iranian side only. Moreover, it is estimated that three to four million people were made homeless or displaced.
The Formation of the Quds Force to Expand Fundamentalism and Terror
In the aftermath of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, one of the fundamental issues discussed within the regime was the fate of its strategy for preserving the "Islamic Republic" as a whole. Two main options were debated; the first urged a focus on domestic issues and an attempt to try to resolve social challenges, while the second was to expand the regime's influence and to address the imperative of exporting the revolution. In the end, the regime's officials opted for the latter option.On this basis, the regime embarked on a reorganization of its military apparatus.
In 1990, the terrorist Quds Force was created, which in the regime's own circles was described as "the genesis of an international Islamic army." It was the product of the regime's experiences and conclusions during the 1980s, informed by its extensive terrorist actions around the world.
The implementation of the policy of "exporting the revolution" (fundamentalism) and terrorism went through various stages over the years, evolving from disparate and disjointed elements towards a highly focused and reinforced policy.
Soon after the end of the Iran-Iraq war and following Khomeini’s death, the new Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sought a remedy for the preservation of the IRGC as a large military force overshadowing the traditional army. He found the answer in reorganizing a branch of the IRGC and calling it the Quds Force. He strengthened and expanded this branch, placing at its helm some of the most seasoned and experienced commanders of the IRGC. Those who previously led various extraterritorial operations for the IRGC were especially handpicked for the Quds Force command centre.
The Quds Force created special units and bases for particular countries and regions in order to organize the regime's terrorist activities in different territories. With the creation of the Quds Force, the regime's terrorist activities in various countries of the Middle East and the world experienced a palpable rise. As is clear from its name, the goal of this force is to reach Jerusalem, the Arabic name of which is Quds. This means that even the title leaves no doubt about the objective of exporting terrorism and warmongering to other countries of the region.
The Defining Role of the IRGC in the Regime's Foreign Policy
The regime's foreign policy is shaped by the Supreme Leader, currently Ali Khamenei, and is based on expansionism and the export of terror. Policymaking and the execution of regime objectives in some countries have officially been transferred to the IRGC.
In this regard, the Quds Force, as the extraterritorial arm of the IRGC, has effectively taken control of the regime's foreign policy through many of its embassies. The regime's embassies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrain and Azerbaijan can be counted in this category. Even the foreign ministry's personnel carry out their activities in accordance with the IRGC's whims and directions.
In addition to the aforementioned countries, the IRGC has dominance in foreign policy when it comes to Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman.
In countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the regime's ambassadors hail from the ranks of the Quds Force or are people close to the IRGC. This is done in order to enable the IRGC to carry out its activities and to advance its agenda by exploiting opportunities awarded by the diplomatic immunity of the embassy and the ambassador.
Since the 2003 US-Iraq War, the regime's ambassador in Iraq has always been selected from the ranks of senior Quds Force commanders. Tehran’s first post-war ambassador to Iraq following the overthrow of the previous regime was Brigadier General Hassan Kazemi Qomi. Prior to taking the post, he was the head of the regime's consulate in Afghanistan's Herat city. In 2011, Brigadier General Hassan Danaifar replaced Qomi.
Danaifar was previously the deputy commander of the IRGC's navy and also commanded the IRGC's Khatam al-Anbia construction headquarters for a period of time.
In January 2017, Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, the head of the Iraq affairs desk at the IRGC and a senior advisor to IRGC-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, was appointed as the Iranian regime’s ambassador to Iraq.
In Syria, Ambassador Mohammad-Reza Ra’uf Ashtiani, whose tenure ended in October 2016, is close to the IRGC. Even after his departure, a number of IRGC commanders remained embedded in the regime's embassy. These include Brigadier General Fallahpour, who is the Quds Force intelligence agent in the embassy and controls all the IRGC personnel in Syria. In addition, Brigadier General Alinejad is stationed at the embassy as a military attaché. A new ambassador has not yet been appointed due to open conflict between the IRGC and the foreign ministry.
In addition to the direct control exercised by the IRGC over some of the embassies, in many of these diplomatic missions, Quds Force officers operate as military attaches and advance the regime's policies under this cover.
The Quds Force also has an intelligence unit that functions in parallel to the regime's intelligence ministry. More importantly, the IRGC has expanded its own intelligence activities throughout the region. In recent months, it has set up various intelligence posts in a number of countries.
This points to the existence of a systematic and deliberate policy as opposed to fragmented and incoherent political, intelligence or military actions.
IRGC Terrorist Training Centres
The IRGC has set up a directorate dedicated to the training of mercenaries and foreign fighters. Training camps have been divided up based on the nationality of the trainees and the type of training. Both terrorist training and also advanced military training for militias are provided, enabling terrorists to better infiltrate various countries and to advance the regime’s regional agenda.
Every month, hundreds of forces from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon -- countries where the regime is involved in frontline combat -- receive military training and are subsequently dispatched to wage terrorism and war. Smaller groups are also trained from other countries in order to conduct terrorist acts and operations. For operations taking place in countries where there is no open warfare - including Persian Gulf States such as Bahrain and Kuwait - terrorists cells are trained instead.
The headquarters of the training directorate is located at the Imam Ali military base, situated at kilometre 20 of the Tehran-Karaj highway. The commander of the training directorate is a veteran IRGC commander who reports directly to IRGC Quds Force Commander-in-Chief Qassem Soleimani. The group’s commander until 2015 - for several years - was Brigadier General Rahimi. Before Rahimi, Brigadier General Khosrow Orouj held the position. Previously, Orouj was the IRGC commander in Lebanon, where he had a close relationship with Hezbollah. He participated in the 33-day war in Lebanon and was a friend of Emad Muqniyeh, a senior member of Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
The following are some of the IRGC training camps that have been identified thus far:
1.Imam Ali Academy in Tajrish, Tehran – Theoretical training on Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism
2.Malek Ashtar Camp in Amol – Survival training
3.Semnan Centre – Practical missile training
4.Baadineh Centre in Varamin – Urban training
5.Mashhad Centre – Focus on training Afghan forces
6.Pazouki Garrison – Focus on Afghan forces to be dispatched to Syria
7.Jalilabad Garrison – Focus on Afghan forces to be dispatched to Syria
8.Chamran Garrison – Focus on Afghan forces to be dispatched to Syria
9.Telecabin Axis – Commando training
10.Abadan - Diving and marine training
11.Ahwaz – Marine training
12.Qeshm Axis - Marine training courses
13.Shahriar Garrison - Training for Syria
IRGC dispatching weapons and explosives
IRGC direct military intervention
IRGC with active terrorist network
IRGC with terrorist operations
IRGC direct meddling in domestic affairs
Warmongering in Iraq
Following the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, the IRGC dispatched its first corps to Iraq, designating this country as its most important target, and appointing Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi as the man in charge of these efforts. This Quds Force branch began organizing Iraqi mercenaries in the so-called Badr Corps, formerly considered a branch of the Revolutionary Guards. The Quds Force 1st Corps continued its penetration and terrorist operations in Iraq until 2003, before the country was occupied by the multinational force.
The occupation of this country by an international coalition provided the best opportunity for the Iranian regime to expand its military meddling in Iraq. With the fall of the former Iraqi state, the balance of power shifted significantly in Iran’s favour.
IRGC’s clandestine occupation of Iraq in 2003
The Iraq war began on March 19th, 2003 and came to an end on April 9th with the fall of the former state. Forecasting such a result from six months prior to the developments, and preparing to take advantage of such a situation through a strategy based on “clandestine occupation with dissidents,” the Iranian regime ordered the Badr forces to enter Iraq through different border passages of Basra, Meysan, Waset and Diyala. This came after the mullahs’ had organized this force in four divisions and two brigades for two decades under the Quds Force’s command.
The Badr forces began taking over various organs and government centres, transferring government documents to Iran and taking full control over Iran-Iraq border areas. The formation of the 25-member Governing Council in Iraq, mostly consisting of elements linked to the mullahs’ regime in Iran, provided the necessary platform from which to infiltrate Iraq’s political establishment.
From the years of 2003 to 2009 the Iranian regime resorted to different measures aimed at expanding its influence in Iraq. This included generating instability, pursuing a policy focused on terrorist attacks against Coalition forces, assassinating political figures and Sunni protesters, and helping Iran-linked Shi’ite groups to expand locally and gain political leverage. Some of these groups were created anew to supplement the work of the Badr forces and some already existed but were newly brought under full Iranian control
In addition to Shi’ite groups, the Iranian regime also provided financial support, arms and logistics to various Sunni groups. Al-Qaeda leaders in Iran acted in complete cooperation with the Iranian regime, and the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in Iran for a long period and commuted between Iran and Iraq under full coordination with the Iranian regime. Zarqawi later brought together a group of people that was the first cell of a group that would come to be known as Daesh (ISIS/ISIL). Groups in Iraq that were affiliated with or received arms from the Iranian regime killed tens of thousands of people, including Coalition forces.
A list of 32,000 agents in Iraq who received their pay checks from the Iranian regime was made public by the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The list included a wide array of government officials, MPs, numerous military commanders and other such elements. Along with the names of these figures, the PMOI revealed monthly salaries, methods used to deliver the salaries and even bank account details, all of which shed light on the Iranian regime’s widespread meddling in Iraq.
As this network of Iran-backed officials was growing in Iraq, Sunnis and even independent Shi’ites lacked any support. In the midst of this situation, Ibrahim Jafari of the Dawa Party became the country’s prime minister in January 2005. The Sunnis consequently boycotted the elections in 2009, leading to Nouri al-Maliki ascending to the position.
During his tenure the Iraqi government became completely affiliated with the Iranian regime. The mullahs’ policy in that period was to eliminate all its opponents, whether Sunni, Shi’ites or Kurds, by instigating sectarian wars and a crackdown by police and military forces under Maliki’s command.
In October 2015 a member of the 9th Badr Corps in Iraq named Sadeq al-Mousawi posted a lengthy piece on his Facebook page about the IRGC’s terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. “In the years following the U.S. occupation of Iraq,” he wrote, “each Iranian IED (improvised explosive device) targeting American tanks and armoured vehicles, was activated by Haj Hamid (an IRGC commander who was later killed in Samara). All Iraqi groups received advice, assistance and quality weapons from him. He never left Iraq during the occupation, other than for a few weeks or for other attacks he sought to carry out in Palestine, Lebanon or Yemen.”
“The Americans had never seen his face,” the post continued. “When he was arrested once by their forces they thought he was an Iraqi civilian. They took his image and released him a few days later, thanks to the intervention of an Iraqi dignitary. A few years after his release the Americans realized who they had arrested, and the fact that he was a member of the Iraqi resistance active against their forces. At a time when various senior Iranian officials were involved in negotiations with the Americans in Iraq, the IRGC was actually inflicting the harshest attacks against the Americans. During the short period of his retirement, he continued his cooperation with special security apparatuses in Iraq.”
Increasing IRGC influence in Iraq after the departure of U.S. forces in 2011
The IRGC was able to increase its meddling in Iraq, politically and military, following the departure of U.S. forces from this country. With support provided by the mullahs’ regime and through vote fraud, Nouri al-Maliki was able to become prime minister in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
As a prime minister affiliated with the Iranian regime, he was known to carry out IRGC orders in Iraq. This included paving the path for terrorist attacks against the residences of Iranian opposition forces in Camps Ashraf and Liberty, resulting in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Iran’s political policy during al-Abadi’s term after 2014
Haider al-Abadi became Iraq’s prime minister following the 2014 parliamentary elections, and growing discontent with Nouri Maliki. As Maliki was set aside from the prime ministry and rifts spread throughout the Shi’ite alliance, the Iranian regime’s policy in Iraq suffered two serious and fundamental blows.
The Iranian regime no longer enjoyed full control over Iraq as during Maliki’s term in office. To this end, following Abadi’s election the Iranian regime sought to politically weaken his government in order to maintain broad influence over the country.
IRGC military influence over Iraq under al-Abadi
Following Daesh’s 2014 attack and taking over the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a jihad fatwa calling on Iraqis to participate in the war against Daesh. The Iranian regime and its IRGC took advantage of this fatwa through their proxy groups, organizing all volunteers under the Popular Mobilization Units for an all-out sectarian war.
This provided new grounds for the Iranian regime to relaunch its military presence in Iraq and use the PMU to crack down on Sunni provinces, all under the pretext of battling Daesh. A week after the Mosul takeover, Qassem Soleimani and the Quds Force command began forming the PMU in Iraq, based on the structure of Iran’s IRGC paramilitary Bassij.
The main PMU structure consists of paramilitary groups such as the Asaeb al-Haq, Badr militias, Kataeb Hezbollah and other Quds Force-affiliated proxy groups. Currently, all such paramilitary groups maintain their identity under the PMU banner and are commanded directly by the IRGC, which also provides arms, equipment, intelligence, planning, reconnaissance, and artillery support.
To this end, Qassem Soleimani and Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Iranian regime’s Supreme National Security Council, have made it crystal clear in their meetings with Iraqi officials that the PMU’s dissolution is a red line for the Iranian regime, and that they are prepared to take serious measures to prevent such an outcome. The PMU shall not be merged into any government organ and must remain an independent military entity.
Through political pressure at a time when Sunnis and Kurds were staging a parliamentary boycott, the Iranian regime used Shi’ite MPs in the Iraqi Parliament to ratify a bill in late 2016 recognizing the PMU as an official force in the Iraqi military, while remaining a loose force. As a result, all groups associated with the IRGC in Iraq gained official status and are currently conducting military operations in various parts of this country.
Despite the fact that the media tends to portray the PMU as having an organized military structure with a commander, chief of staff, deputy, etc., the reality is that all affairs related to the PMU are controlled and directed by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a known agent of the Quds Force.
The IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency issued a report on July 26th, 2015 emphasizing the IRGC’s role in launching the PMU:
“Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis’ true identity is Jamal Jafar Mohamed. He is ‘officially’ considered the PMU deputy commander, and yet he is ‘practically’ the commander of this force. He is one of the 17 individuals accused of being involved in the 1983 attack targeting U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait, and the 1985 assassination of Kuwaiti emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. He is further accused of being involved in the 1984 hijacking of a Kuwaiti Airlines plane.
Al-Muhandis was also involved in establishing the ‘United Iraq National Alliance’, the ‘Iraqi National Alliance’ and the current ‘National Alliance.’ He is one of the king-makers behind Ibrahim Jafari and Nouri Maliki achieving the role of prime minister.
“If not for the Islamic republic’s widespread support, and above all the support shown by Khamenei, the formation of the PMU would have been fundamentally impossible, especially considering all measures taken in this regard. Khamenei ordered our brothers in the IRGC to support the PMU, and the IRGC has provided us with arms, ammunition and also advice and planning for military operations,” said al-Muhandis in an interview with the Lebanese al-Akhbar daily.
Emad Muqniyeh and Mustafa Badredin played fundamental roles in establishing the Iraqi resistance against the Americans, according to al-Muhandis… the PMU deputy commander also described this entity’s mission as maintaining security in Iraq.
“We will dispatch to any region necessary and anywhere Iraq’s security is endangered,” he added.
“I hope the war in Syria comes to an end prior to Mosul. Or else we will have to send forces there,” al-Muhandis continued.
A new terrorist militia force set up by the IRGC in Iraq is Sarayay-e Khorasan. The group claims that it was set up by Hamid Taqavi, one of the leading Quds Force figures in Iraq. He was killed in December 2014 in the front at Samara. The Secretary General of the group is Ali al-Yaseri, a veteran supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr, and his deputy is Hamed Jazayeri, a clergyman. Al-Yaseri has formally declared that he believes in velayat-e faqih and Khamenei and not Iraq or any other country. The group’s logo is similar to that of the IRGC.
IRGC command leverage to intervene in Iraq
The Quds Force is behind the Iranian regime’s policies in Iraq. For years, Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi has been a senior Quds Force commander and he was appointed to be in charge of Iraq via the Iraqi desk at the Quds Force.
All terrorist attacks in Iraq are controlled by him and under his command and control. The Iranian regime’s embassy in Iraq is actually under the command of the IRGC Quds Force.
Hassan Danaifar, the Iranian regime’s former ambassador in Iraq, was also a senior Quds Force commander. In January 2017, however, Quds Force Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi was introduced as the Iranian regime’s new ambassador to Iraq. The Iraqi government has not yet approved his appointment.
As a result, the IRGC figure behind all measures in Iraq entered the political spectrum of the Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq in order to safeguard the mullahs’ stature in Iraq.
The Iranian regime uses Iraq as a springboard to send arms, equipment and money to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, and to further expand its military intervention across the Middle East.
The IRGC's Meddling and Warmongering in Syria
The Strategic Significance of Syria for the Mullahs' Regime in Iran
Syria is has been one of the most important targets for the clerical regime and the IRGC ever since Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian president at the time of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, supplied them with political and military aid.
In the course of the Arab Spring in 2011, the Syrian people rose up against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, whose rule was subsequently threatened. In retaliation, Khamenei sent in the IRGC to prop up Assad. A number of the Iranian regime's officials have publicly stated the significance of the Syrian war for the Iranian regime.
Mehdi Taeb, the head of the Ammar Garrison and brother of IRGC intelligence chief Hossein Taeb, said in February 2013: "Syria is Iran's 35th province. If the enemy were to attack us and take over either Syria or (Iran’s) Khuzestan province, the priority would be to preserve Syria because if we maintain Syria, we can take back Khuzestan at a later date. But if we lose Syria, we won’t be able to hold on to Tehran."
IRGC Major General Rahim Safavi, a senior military advisor to Khamenei, said in a speech at an IRGC base in Isfahan regarding the significance of the IRGC's presence in Syria: "Iran's influence has gone beyond Iran itself, from Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. This is the third time that the power of Iran has reached the Mediterranean. Our defence lines are no longer at Shalamcheh. Our defensive foothold is in southern Lebanon bordering Israel. Our strategic depth has reached the shores of the Mediterranean and to the north of Israel. The West is worried about the expansion of Iran's reach from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean."
Over the past three decades, the Iranian regime has taken maximum advantage from the Lebanese group Hezbollah to advance its agenda. The hostage taking of Western nationals in Lebanon in the 1980s, and the transformation of Hezbollah into a classic military force while confiscating a portion of the political power in this country enabled the mullahs’ terrorism and emboldened them to force the West to resort to the policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Tehran.
In the context of this strategy, in order to preserve the Lebanese Hezbollah, Syria plays a key political role as well as a geographical function due to its facilitation of the transfer of weapons and other tools to Hezbollah. Therefore, it is not without cause that Khamenei's senior advisor describes the preservation of Syria (Assad) as more important than holding onto the oil-rich region of Khuzestan in western Iran.
A Brief Summary of the 6-year Syrian Conflict
The Syrian people's peaceful uprising began on January 26, 2011 and continued for several months. Millions of people poured into the streets in various cities and villages, mainly chanting "the people want regime change." They demanded that the regime be overthrown. But, the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad fell back on the Iranian regime's political, financial and security support, responding to the people's peaceful protests with bullets and violence.
Without the direct support of the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad could not have retained power. In particular, after the extensive military defections and the joining of Syrian army officers with the dissidents and the formation of the Free Syrian Army on June 30, 2011, the Assad regime was close to being uprooted. It was in these circumstances, that the clerical regime came to its aid unannounced and with all its might. The vast presence of the regime's forces in Syria was not a hidden phenomenon for Western powers and especially the U.S.
Khamenei dispatched one of the most experienced IRGC commanders, Hossein Hamedani, to Syria. He was the commander of the Mohammad Division, which was previously responsible for suppressing the 2009 popular uprisings in Tehran. Gradually, the command of Assad's forces came under the orbit of the IRGC.
In August 2013, the Assad regime, eager to fend off opponents and save itself from being overthrown, used chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus and especially in the Ghouta region, massacring civilians, mainly women and children.
These attacks occurred on the brink of official nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and the Iranian regime. On the basis of a secret communiqué from within the Iranian regime, the regime's officials had concluded at the time that their increasing meddling in Syria would not be met with any serious response or reaction from the U.S. or the international community.
On the basis of this intelligence, the Iranian regime's strategy stood on two pillars. The first was to provide full-fledged support to the Assad regime while participating in the suppression and massacre of opponents and people who had poured onto the streets. The second was to strengthen extremist groups indirectly as a way to sow divisions among the opposition and prevent the formation of a broader international consensus around the opposition, which would have led to growing calls for Assad to be ousted.
The Emergence and Rise of ISIS
There is abundant evidence that the Islamic State (Daesh or ISIS) is a by-product of the suppression of the Iraqi people and the oppression of Sunnis under the reign of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, both of whom were under the influence of the Iranian regime. These indications come in two forms.
One is attributed to the Iranian regime's policies in the region, which have fuelled rivalries between Shi’ite and Sunni fundamentalists.
This aspect of the regime's policies in fomenting Sunni fundamentalism has gone largely unnoticed. One of the material implications of this policy has been the suppression, and in effect the ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population in Iraq, which contributed to the emergence and rise of ISIS. This was indeed a policy that was pursued by the regime in the aftermath of the overthrow of the previous regime in Iraq in 2003.
The second type of evidence is that which speaks directly to the role of the Iranian regime and its allies in establishing ISIS, including the releasing of extremist prisoners by Maliki and Assad. These freed prisoners eventually formed the founding cells of ISIS. In November 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with Fox News: "ISIS was created by Assad releasing 1,500 prisoners from jail and Maliki releasing 1,000 people in Iraq who were put together as a force of terror types." He also mentioned the purchase of oil by the Assad regime from ISIS, which was one of the main factors contributing to the emergence and survival of ISIS. Secretary Kerry concluded that Assad and ISIS had a symbiotic relationship. Moreover, the Assad regime cannot be separated from the Iranian regime.
The Prospect of Assad's Downfall and Russia's Entry into the Conflict
During the first few months of 2015, the armed opposition in Syria had scored significant victories in the north and south of the country. The alliance of Assad, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime had suffered serious setbacks. Despite bringing in more forces and mercenaries, the IRGC feared eventual defeat in Syria.
In the summer of 2015, when Khamenei sensed the prospects of defeat in Syria, he rushed to Russia for help. The commander of the Quds Force of IRGC, Qassem Soleimani, promised in a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia were to provide sufficient air support, the IRGC and its surrogates would be able to make significant advances on the ground and take back territory from the opposition. At a press conference on January 17, 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Syrian capital of Damascus was two to three weeks away from falling to "terrorists" when Russia intervened in support of Assad.
In October 2016, the first round of the IRGC's assault, the so-called Moharram Operation in the suburbs of Aleppo, failed without achieving any results. During this period, the IRGC's commander in Syria, Hossein Hamedani, was killed along with dozens of other high-ranking IRGC commanders and officers.
Despite the heavy toll, which ignited serious debate and tensions even within the Iranian regime itself, Tehran continued to support Assad and participate in the commission of war crimes as it calculated that the U.S. and the West would remain tolerant of its lethal role in Syria.
In January and February 2016, the IRGC doubled the size of its forces in Syria to about 60,000 and Khamenei dispatched a number of regular army units to Syria.
On the back of heavy assaults undertaken by the IRGC and its mercenaries, the Iranian regime succeeded in retaking the Shi’ite cities of Nubl and al-Zahra in February 2016. The IRGC's forces initiated a massacre in the Sunni city of Mayer near Nubl, cleansing the city of its residents and turning Mayer into an IRGC base.
IRGC officials openly declare their presence in various counties. Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, a senior advisor to Quds Force commander Soleimani and the Iranian regime’s proposed ambassador to Iraq, said during a ceremony organized for one of the regime's slain fighters in Syria: "In the past, our front line was Abadan, Khoramshahr, Mehran and Haj Omran. Today, that frontier has been pushed out to Mosul, Lebanon, Aleppo and Syria."
The IRGC and its mercenaries began to encircle Aleppo in late 2016 and after a few months of laying siege and preventing the entry of food and water, as well as brutal bombings and war crimes, they took over the city in December 2016. According to reports, 25,000 IRGC forces commanded by Brigadier General Seyyed Javad Ghaffari took part in the operation to retake Aleppo. A ceasefire agreement took effect on December 29, 2016 with the participation of Turkey and Russia.
The IRGC was opposed to the ceasefire and continued combat in various regions including Wadi Barada.
There is credible information suggesting that the Iranian regime seeks an opportune moment to carry out disparate operations in violation of the ceasefire in order to advance its own policies. The regime's officials are not particularly pleased with the ceasefire in Aleppo, which subsequently extended to all of Syria. Their goal is to completely obliterate the Syrian opposition.
Summary of the Meddling of Iranian Regime and IRGC in Syria
Signs that Iranian regime and the IRGC have waged an all-out war in Syria are as follows:
-Khamenei is personally and directly responsible for all political and military decision-making when it comes to the war in Syria, and on many occasions he has even been involved in tactical military decision-making. Khamenei drew in the highest ranks of the IRGC's command structure for the war, including its commander-in-chief, Major General Mohammad-Ali Jaafari, who personally travelled to Syria during attacks against Nubl and al-Zahra in February 2016.
-While the Quds Force is leading the fight in Syria as the extraterritorial arm of the IRGC, the IRGC's ground forces and the army's ground forces have also been involved in the war. All of the IRGC's provincial branches have a quota for the number of members required to be dispatched to Syria on a periodic basis. Other forces of the IRGC, including its air force and navy, are also involved in the war. In 2016, Khamenei for the first time ordered the formation of an airborne unit in the IRGC ground forces in order to enable it to expand its influence and activities in Syria.
-The total number of foreign fighters that the IRGC has dispatched to Syria is over 70,000, a figure that dwarfs the total number of current Syrian army forces. According to IRGC reports, the latter is less than 50,000. The clerical regime, in addition to armed forces, has involved all of Iran's ministries and government institutions in the war in Syria. For example, Brigadier General Rostam Ghasemi directs the logistics command centre for the war in Syria and is the IRGC's Khatam representative. Previously, he was the commander of Khatam al-Anbia as well as the oil minister under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As such, the IRGC, which is the most significant economic powerhouse in Iran, has also dedicated its economic resources to the war in Syria.
-Over the past five years, the clerical regime has spent over $100 billion on the war in Syria, a large portion of which was provided through the Khamenei office's secret budget allocations. The money is spent on procuring weapons and paying for the Syrian army's expenses. The regime pays about $1billion a year in salaries for forces tied to the IRGC, including armed forces, militias and Shi’ites protected by the regime.
-The regime has sent a large network of its mullahs to Syria to incite and promote hatred, violence, and fundamentalism, as well as to enflame sectarian tensions. A number of the regime's religious singers have also gone to Syria (reminiscent of the war with Iraq) in order to inflame religious passions and to encourage the Bassij paramilitary force, the IRGC and Afghan and Iraqi mercenaries to continue fighting.
- A large contingent of the regime's senior IRGC commanders have been killed in the course of the war in Syria. In order to advance the war in Syria, the clerical regime was forced to dispatch its former Iraq war commanders, many of whom were ultimately killed. The total number of IRGC-affiliated casualties, including Syrian, Afghani and Iraqi mercenaries (but excluding Syrian army causalities) is over 10,000. About 1,500 of these were IRGC members. Over 70 of them had the ranks of colonel or higher.
A cursory review of the extent of the meddling in Syria and the IRGC's causalities and costs in Syria shows the significance of this war for the preservation of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran.
Warmongering in Yemen
Nuclear agreement; Khamenei’s need to spread war; war in Yemen
Since Ayatollah Khamenei decided to enter into secret nuclear negotiations with the US and especially after open negotiations started in 2013, increased meddling in regional countries has been a means for the regime to cover up the strategic weakness demonstrated by a retreat in the nuclear field.
Therefore, in contrast to its past practice, the Iranian regime made public the IRGC’s presence in the region, particularly Qassem Soleimani’s activities. The regime was confident that due to nuclear negotiations and the policy of the Obama Administration, it would face no serious reaction. On this basis, since mid-2014 the IRGC has provoked escalation of the civil war in Yemen through forces affiliated with the clerical regime.
According to the Iranian resistance’s sources in Iran, the regime was hoping to gain greater concessions in nuclear negotiations following its latest advances. After Yemen, the regime planned to pave the way for overthrow of the government in Bahrain and instigate unrest among Shi’ite populations in Saudi Arabia.
Operations by forces affiliated with the Iranian regime in Yemen forced Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to form an Arab coalition as part of a firm policy against the regime.
History of IRGC meddling in Yemen
Using the role model of Lebanese Hezbollah, the IRGC created a surrogate group in Yemen exploiting the tribal disputes and a Shi’ite minority in that country. The Houthi tribe became the prime candidate for organizing such a movement.
Housein al-Houthi and his brother Abdulmalek and father Badroddin spent more than a year in Iran in the early 1980s. They received religious, political, security and terrorist training in the city of Qum. They regularly visited Iran after that.
Housein al-Houthi left the Haq Party in 1997 upon the Iranian regime’s order and formed a group called “Devout Youth Association,” using Lebanese Hezbollah as its role model. It was later renamed as Ansarollah.
When an uprising started in Yemen in January 2011, the regime used all its power to strengthen, arm, expand and train Ansarollah in that country. The majority of its forces were trained in Yemen but some went to Iran to receive training in Quds Force centres.
War in Yemen under IRGC commanders’ supervision
On 12 July 2014, IRGC Brigadier General Esmail Gha’ani, the deputy commander of the Quds Force, declared a new era of Ansarollah’s operations in Yemen in a gathering of a group of its commanders. The meeting specified that these operations would serve to put Saudi Arabia in a vulnerable position.
In September 2014, Alireza Zakani, a member of the IRGC and the Iranian parliament as well as a former head of the Student Mobilization Force and a close associate of Khamenei, unveiled the regime’s role in events in Yemen and its plan to export fundamentalism and terrorism to the entire region under the banner of a “unifying system of Muslims by Islamic Revolution”.
“Far greater developments are taking place in Yemen than in Lebanon; 14 provinces out of 20 are in the hands of the revolutionaries in Yemen and so is 90% of Sanaa,” Zakani said. He went on to say: “After victory in Yemen, Saudi Arabia will definitely be the next one, as these two countries have about 2,000 km of shared border, and some two million organized armed people exist in Yemen… Today, the Islamic Revolution controls three capitals of Arab countries and soon Sanaa will be captured and the unifying system of Muslims will be in place.”
With open assistance from the Iranian regime and in coordination with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Ansarollah forces deposed the sitting president and took control of much of the country’s northern territory. On 21 September 2014 Sanaa was taken over by Houthi militia forces. In January 2015, following the capture of the presidential palace in Sanaa, a delegation of Houthi leadership went to Tehran and met with Khamenei’s office, the Quds force and other institutions.
Simultaneous with these meetings, the Quds Force circulated an internal brief saying: “The tight and strong organization of Ansarollah is the result of Iran’s efforts. They have spent years in Iran. Iran has worked with the Ansarollah movement continuously for 15 years. They have developed to this level with our support, training, continuous supply and information. In addition, the Quds Force has supported them by using Hezbollah and Arab groups. Ansarollah fully abides by Iran.”
IRGC Brigadier General Amirian, who is in charge of Quds Force operations on the Arab Peninsula, commands forces affiliated with the IRGC in Yemen and is in constant contact with Ansarollah commanders.
Advances of Ansarollah in Yemen and its threats to the Saudi border led to Saudi engagement in the war and the formation of an Arab coalition that has halted Ansarollah’s advances and forced them to withdraw from parts of Yemen.
On 14 April 2015, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the civil war in Yemen, barring the supply of arms to forces of the Ansarollah movement and Ali Abdullah Saleh. But the IRGC continued supplying rockets and various arms to Ansarollah to keep the war going.
In 2015 and 2016 several arms consignments were captured which had been dispatched by the Iranian regime to the Houthis. Ban Ki-moon, then the UN Secretary General, issued a report to the Security Council on 18 January 2017 regarding Iran’s violations of the ban. In it, he referred to a report by the French government regarding the capture of a weapons cache in March 2016 in the northern reaches of the Indian Ocean that belonged to Iran and was possibly destined for Yemen.
In October 2016, Ansarollah launched a Barkan 1 ballistic missile against Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This type of missile is built by the IRGC, copied from Scud B missiles. The attack prompted widespread condemnation from Islamic countries in the Middle East.
Meddling in Lebanon
Establishment of Hezbollah to export revolution to that country
Lebanese Hezbollah was basically established by fundamentalist institutions of the velayat-e faqih and the Liberation Movements office of the IRGC following the 1979 Iranian revolution. Hezbollah is committed to velayat-e faqih as embodied today by Khamenei’s leadership. After its foundation all of its personnel were trained by the IRGC, and the Quds Force paid their salaries.
In the beginning of 1983, the IRGC set up Hezbollah centres in the Bekaa Valley and openly started training and arming Hezbollah.
Its IRGC liaison officer until 1985 was Mohammad Najar, who later served as Iran’s Defense Minister under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During this period, terrorist operations of Hezbollah were carried out by order of and with the support of the IRGC. Two of their most important operations against US forces were attacks on the US Embassy and Marine Headquarters. The commander of the IRGC at the time was Mohsen Rafiqdoost who later publicly expressed pride for the regime’s involvement in these terrorist operations.
Rafiqdoost was quoted by the State-run daily Resalat on July 20,1987 as saying, "The United States knows the explosives that mixed with ideology and sent up to 400 officers and Marines in the United States Marine Barracks to hell; both the TNT and the ideology behind it came from Iran.”
IRGC terrorist operations in Lebanon
IRGC activities started in Lebanon simultaneous with the opening of the IRGC Intelligence Directorate in that country in 1981. Between 1983 and 1984, several major terrorist operations were carried out against the US and French interests in Lebanon by the IRGC and affiliated forces. These include:
Suicide attack on the US Embassy in Beirut on 18 April 1983
The US Embassy was the target of a suicide attack involving a van filled with explosives. The van was stolen from the US Embassy parking lot in June 1982. The van was loaded with 2000 pounds of explosives and blew up in front of the seven-storey embassy building in Beirut killing 63 and wounding 120. Among those killed were 17 Americans including the head of the CIA office in the Middle East. Most of those killed were having lunch where a roof fell on them. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility a few hours later. The operation was planned by heads of the IRGC and guided by the IRGC command based in Baalbek and Bekaa Valley
US Consulate bombing in Beirut in 1984
A lorry carrying 1,102 pounds of explosives sped up to the consulate in Beirut and blew up in front of the building after security forces opened fire on it. More than 20 people were killed and many more wounded and the front of the five-storey building collapsed. An extremist group affiliated with the Iranian regime was behind the attack.
Suicide attack on the US Marine Barracks in Beirut on 23 October 1983
At 06:22 AM, a yellow Mercedes lorry circled a parking lot just outside the barracks and suddenly drove into the hall within the building and detonated 12,000 pounds of TNT. More than 240 US Marines were killed in this bombing, which was greatest military blow against the US since the Vietnam War.
A few minutes later, the command headquarters of the French peacekeeping forces in Beirut was attacked in the same manner, killing 74.
There were a number of other operations during this period including a suicide attack on the US Marine centre in Beirut that left 39 dead and 40 wounded.
All of the above operations were conducted by agents of the IRGC Intelligence with the help of its local agents, especially Hezbollah forces affiliated with the IRGC. During these operations the regime’s embassy in Damascus played a very important role, when Mullah Mohtashami Pour was the ambassador.
Quds force activities in Lebanon after the ceasefire
The Iranian regime expanded its terrorist activities in Lebanon following a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq War. From 1988 until 1993, the issue of Western hostages in Lebanon became an active subject in the regime’s foreign policy. In fact, the issue emerged in 1985 but it continued after the ceasefire when it was expected that French, British and US hostages would be released following the cessation of the war.
After the formation of the Quds Force in 1990, its seventh corps was assigned to conduct terrorist operations in Lebanon and Syria.
At the behest of the Iranian regime, Hezbollah has long conducted military operations in order to obstruct the peace process in the Middle East. For example, on 12 July 2006 two Israeli military personnel were abducted by Hezbollah upon orders from the Iranian regime.
Subsequently, on 13 July, Israel imposed a sea blockade on Lebanon that led to war between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. During the war, the Iranian regime provided its full political, financial, military, cultural and propaganda support to Hezbollah, which is comprised of groups created by the IRGC in southern Lebanon.
There are various departments within the Iranian regime providing support to Hezbollah such as the IRGC and the Imam Aid Committee. Hezbollah’s budget is paid for by Khamenei’s office, and the regime’s Ministry of Defence and Quds Force supply all the weapons required by Hezbollah and other Lebanese forces affiliated with the regime.
Hezbollah pursues the regime’s policies in the region and currently its forces are fighting alongside IRGC forces in Syria. The Quds Force representative in Lebanon and liaison officer with Hezbollah is IRGC Brigadier General Zahedi.
In December 2015, the US Treasury Department imposed a financial sanction against Hezbollah. Subsequently, Hassan Nasrallah, the third and current Secretary General of Hezbollah reacted by declaring that the new round of US sanctions would have no impact on his group as Hezbollah receives its funds directly from Iran.
In his report on breaches of arms embargos on 8 January 2017, Ban Ki-moon referred to a televised speech on Al-Menar channel, on 26 June 2016, wherein Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah’s budget, salaries, expenses, weapons and rockets are all supplied by Iran. Ban Ki-moon noted, “I am very concerned by this statement, which suggests that transfers of arms and related materiel from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hezbollah may have been undertaken contrary (to a Security Council resolution).”
Meddling in Bahrain
History of the IRGC meddling in Bahrain
In 1984, the Iranian regime formed “the Gulf Hezbollah Corps” led by Brigadier General Mohammad Mostafa Najar. It was intended to interfere in the affairs of neighbouring countries south of Iran.
Following the formation of the Quds Force in 1990, the Gulf Hezbollah Corps went under the command of the Quds Force, the sixth corps of which was commanded by IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Sharifi and assigned to export terrorism to Persian Gulf countries and destabilize them.
Sharifi played an active role in Bahrain’s internal conflict in 1993.
He was also the commander of the terrorist operation on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
Since 2014, IRGC Brigadier General Amirian has been fully in charge of the affairs in Yemen and Bahrain on behalf of the Quds Force.
Iranian regime’s meddling in Bahrain after 2011 crisis
Following the crisis in Bahrain that started in February 2011, the Iranian regime expanded its meddling in that country. Leaders of the regime openly discussed meddling in Bahrain and Khamenei referred to Bahrain in 17 speeches from 13 March 2011 to 3 June 2012 and claimed that interference in Bahrain was the regime’s inalienable right. Other officials of the regime also called for the overthrow of Bahrain’s government and the country’s annexation. Mullah Ahmad Jannati, Tehran’s provisional Friday prayers leader declared in his Sermon on 8 July 2011: “Bahrain must be conquered by Islam and Muslims and win over American forces dressed up as Saudi forces.”
In April 2011, the unrest in Bahrain and the means for Iranian interference in that country were discussed by Iran’s Supreme Security Council, which concluded that the trend in Bahrain was irreversible and that Iran must invest in it. But due to international reaction against interference of the Islamic Republic in Bahraini affairs and due to political and international observations, the council determined that Iran could not engage directly and openly. Therefore, everything would need to be done secretly and through the IRGC, the Quds Force and affiliated groups including Hezbollah.
Following the decisions of the Supreme Security Council, Khamenei set up a headquarters to counter the Bahrain government headed by IRGC Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, the public relations chief of the General Command of the IRGC and chief of Quds Intifada group.
Afterwards, various departments of the regime held meetings with Bahraini Shi’ite groups and coordinated with them. A secret report in March 2015 says that Seyed Qassem Hosseini, one of the officials of the anti-Royal state of Bahrain movements, is based in Qom. Hosseini and a number of Bahraini individuals held meetings with the Quds force.
Subsequent to the Supreme Security Council decision, the Quds Force engaged Lebanese Hezbollah forces in Bahrain on the pretext of trade and family relations. A secret report on 11 March 2015 noted that Dr. Rashed al-Rashed, one of the leaders of Islamic Tayar al-Amal, sought the overthrow of Bahraini rule. The Quds Force sent al-Rashed to universities in Mashhad, Qazvin, Esfahan and Shiraz and organized meetings to speak about the revolution in Bahrain.
In negotiations with this group, the Quds Force also offered to provide him with satellite TV facilities. At that time, one hour of TV air-time was already provided to him on a daily basis by Al-Alam and Al-Menar, both networks affiliated with Hezbollah.
Khamenei personally supports the Islamic Tayar al-Amal movement and revolution in Bahrain. Its contact in Khamenei’s office is a cleric called Sheikh Mohsen Qomi. Al-Rashed met several times with Quds force commanders, Qassem Soleimani, Ahl al-Beit International Association and Mullah Akhtari. In 2014, Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, sent al-Rashed a message referring him to Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut and explaining that Tehran could not support al-Rashed publicly for political reasons. Al-Rashed went to Beirut and after meeting with Nasrallah, a Hezbollah deputy by the name of Sheikh Hassan Hemadeh was appointed as the person in charge of Bahraini affairs.
In addition, the regime engaged agents of the IRGC in Iraq in support of groups within Bahrain. On 20 April 2011, the Badr Organization headed by Hadi al-Ameri held a meeting in Baghdad in support of riots in Bahrain and organized a demonstration on 23 April 2011 outside Khallani Mosque in Baghdad.
Following assessments and decisions by various departments of the regime, in late 2014 the Quds Force accelerated the dispatch of arms and explosives to Bahrain and set up a number of networks. One of the networks was unveiled by Bahrain’s security forces on 30 September 2015. Reuters reported on that date that the Bahraini Interior Ministry had discovered a bomb-making workshop in Noiderat, a village south of the capital of Manama. According to the ministry, 1.5 tons of powerful explosives were found in this workshop. Tariq al-Hassan, Bahrain’s police chief, declared the Islamic Republic of Iran to be responsible for the workshop.
On 20 June 2016, Qassem Soleimani openly threatened the government of Bahrain with armed struggle, in a public statement. He warned that if Bahrain stepped over the red line drawn by the regime “there will rise such a flame in Bahrain and all over the region that will leave no other choice to people but an armed resistance,” and that “the result would be none other than annihilation of the tyrannical regime.”
On 22 July 2016, Bahraini authorities detained five people suspected of having links to Iran and attempting to plant bombs. According to Bahrain’s official news agency, these individuals had received advanced military training in IRGC and Iraqi Hezbollah centres and planned to set explosives in various locations in Bahrain.
Meddling in Saudi Arabia
After the birth of the mullahs’ regime in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini aspired to establish a caliphate, which was to involve taking control of Mecca. Khomeini did not even recognize the name of Saudi Arabia and referred to it as Hejaz. In an unprecedented move in 1987, he declared that he would never stop opposing the government of Saudi Arabia.
The history of IRGC’s intervention in Saudi Arabia
In the Quds Force, the affairs of Saudi Arabia were initially under the jurisdiction of the sixth division of the Persian Gulf. Since the inception of the IRGC, Brigadier General Ahmad Sharifi was the commander of the sixth division of the Persian Gulf and had a major role in the Khobar Towers explosions in Saudi Arabia on 26 June 1996. In 1997 when his role in the bomb attack was revealed, the Quds Force replaced him. In the following years the Quds Force transferred him to a university in Qom known as Jerusalem University.
Louis Freeh, the former FBI chief who had gone to Saudi Arabia to investigate the bombing had come to the conclusion that the IRGC and the Quds Force were behind the terrorist act. Ten thousand kilograms of TNT explosives were smuggled from Lebanon using a gas truck. As a result, 19 American soldiers were killed and 400 more injured. In 1997 the Iranian regime, using the Hajj pilgrimage as a cover, sent many of his revolutionary guards equipped with melee weapons and firearms to create mayhem in Saudi Arabia.
As a result, hundreds were killed during the clashes.
The Iranian regime has tried for years to organize Shi’ia populations in southern Saudi Arabia and use them against the Saudi government. IRGC Brigadier General Amirian is in charge of the Arabian Peninsula and heads these interventionist policies. The following are a few examples of the recent activities against the Saudi government:
Planned bombing against Adel Jubair, the former Saudi Ambassador to the United States (the current Foreign Minister)
In September 2011, the US government arrested an Iranian by the name of Mansour Arbabsiar on charges of an attempted bombing against the Saudi ambassador Adel Jubair. Iran denied any involvement in the project.
An eyewitness who previously worked in the security division of the regime in Kermanshah, testified that he had seen Mansour Arbabsiar, who planned the bombing against the former Saudi ambassador to the US (the current Secretary of State), two or three times in the headquarters of the Quds Force in Kermanshah.
He had seen Mansour Arbabsiar in 1996 and 1997 when he had gone to see his friends in a Quds Force-affiliated company in Kermanshah. Arbabsiar had brought holsters and military belts from United States for his friends in the Quds Force.
Mansour Arbabsiar is a relative of Javad Jafari one of the Quds force commanders who was briefed by Brigadier General Abdolreza Shahlaei on the bombing plan. Shahlaei is the commander of the Nasr Base of the Quds Force whose role is to intervene in Iraq.
According to the witness, after handling this file, Shahlaei was promoted and is now occupying an important position within the Revolutionary Guards. The second person involved in this file was Colonel Gholam Shakori one of the commanders of the Quds Force, who at the time of Iran-Iraq War was a member of the Nabi Akram division in Kermanshah province.
In 2011, the Iranian Minister of Intelligence spoke to state media and denied any connections between Mansour Arbabsiar and the intelligence agencies, but the witness’ statements above prove otherwise.
The commanders and the agents involved in the attack against the Saudi embassy in Tehran
According to reports from within the regime, the attack on the Saudi embassy in January 2016 was organized and directed by the Revolutionary Guards at the behest of Khamenei. Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the head of the Bassij force was commanding the attack and had personally ordered setting fire to the embassy. He had told the perpetrators not to leave the embassy before setting it ablaze. Naghdi is one of the criminal commanders of the IRGC who was appointed to his position in September 2009.
The commander of the attacking force on the embassy was Erfanian a commander of the Bassij affiliated to the IRGC. Another one of the commanders at the scene was Davood Goodarzi the head of the student Bassij force, which is used to suppress dissent on university campuses. Goodarzi had threatened the police forces at the scene and had informed them that this attack had been coordinated with higher-ups.
Even though the police were informed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the attack, the police and security forces were told beforehand by the IRGC not to disperse the crowd or interfere with the situation. Thus, the police and the security forces at the scene did not take any steps to protect the premises.
After Arab countries threatened to sever ties with Iran and a political debacle swept through the regime, the Bassij commanders from different regions in Tehran tried to hold a meeting to sum up the effect of the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. This meeting was held in one of the student’s mobilization centres known as Seyed Shohada in Abali region near Tehran. The meeting took place on 14 and 15 January 2016 and was chaired by Davood Goodarzi and one of the deputies to Mohammad Reza Naghdi.
At this meeting the Bassij commanders were briefed that due to the crisis caused by the attack on the Saudi Arabian embassy, they would have to claim that the attack was the work of infiltrators and had nothing to do with Bassij or the IRGC. They added that the Bassij should claim they were only present on the second day of the protest in front of the embassy, to show that the attack on and burning of the embassy were the work of unknown infiltrators while the Bassij was only involved in peaceful demonstrations.
Meddling in Palestine
To exploit the feelings of the Muslims in the region after coming to power in 1978, the Khomeini regime started exporting terrorism under the pretext of the Palestinian cause. It went as far as using the slogan of “Jerusalem via Karbala” for its Bassij forces during the war with Iraq.
The background to Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) intervention in Palestine
The Quds Force gets its name from the Arabic word “Quds” meaning Jerusalem. Khamenei and the IRGC have continuously used Palestine as a cover for their interventionist policies in the region. The Seventh Corps of the Quds Force has been tasked to intervene in Palestinian affairs.
The organization’s Middle Eastern affairs and Lebanese affairs sections also tend to put some emphasis on Palestinian issues. The Quds Force in coordination with the Iranian embassy in Syria follows its objectives in regards to Palestine. In order to expand its influence, the IRGC works closely with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, supplying them with arms and financial assistance.
IRGC’s plot to assassinate Yasser Arafat
The Iranian regime’s agenda from the beginning was contrary to the benefit and wellbeing of the Palestinian people. The clerical regime has done everything in its power to derail peace talks since they started in 1991. The aim was to weaken the progress of the negotiations by supporting fanatical groups like Islamic Jihad against Fatah.
When Khamenei and then-President Rafsanjani could not stop the progress of the peace accord they tried to assassinate Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. In the 1990s the Iranian resistance received a report, which was also picked up by some news organizations, about a meeting of groups opposing the Damascus peace negotiations in 1993. Mohsen Rezaei, the IRGC commander at the time, along with Mohsen Armin, the head of the IRGC intelligence division in Lebanon, had participated in this meeting.
The assassination of Yasser Arafat was discussed at the meeting as a way to stop the peace talks and escalate the regional tensions. The second session of the meeting took place in December of 1993.
Fomenting discord between Palestinian groups
Following the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, the Quds force went through a reorganization to have a more effective role in Palestine and actively sought to work with groups opposing peace with Israel. This new approach fuelled the fire between Palestinian groups, leading to infighting between the Palestinian forces in 2007 in Gaza.
According to reports from within the regime, the IRGC pursued these objectives at the time:
1-Supply elements of Hamas and Islamic Jihad with training and establish IRGC training centres in the Gaza Strip.
2-Create intermediary bases and create charities to facilitate equipment and money transfers to the Gaza Strip.
3-Send Islamic Jihad and Hamas fighters to Iran through Syria or Lebanon to complete their training.
4-Send the IRGC to infiltrate Al-Agsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah movement.
6-Increase financial support to Hamas.
Formation of new Palestinian groups by the IRGC
Following the Iranian regime’s interference in Syria, the relationship began to suffer between the mullahs and Revolutionary Guards on one hand and Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the other. The Iranian regime attempted to create a group in Gaza that would be under the complete control of the Quds Force, much like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hashed Popular Movement in Iraq.
The group they created was the Saberin movement, which was created in Aril 2014, as an off-shoot of Islamic Jihad. It is a Palestinian Shi’ia group that has followed Hezbollah’s lead in modelling its logo after the IRGC’s flag. The Secretary General of the Saberin movement said in an interview with Al-Akhbar news on 30 Dec 2016: “All the Palestinian groups have a very close relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and we all receive help and support from Iran. They are the only country in the world that supports the Palestinian cause, especially militarily”.
On February 3, 2016, the Palestinian authority announced that five people in the West Bank were charged with collaborating with Iran and had been arrested for planning terrorist attacks. These five people were members of the Saberin movement.
Meddling in Turkey
Considering that Turkey shares a border with Iran, the IRGC has always planned to extensively intervene in that country. Upon the establishment of the Quds Force, it was decided that the Fifth Brigade would be allocated to Turkey. This entity oversees specific terrorist projects and organizes secret terrorist networks inside Turkey.
The commander of the Fifth Brigade is Haj Mansour and his base is located in Tabriz. With cooperation from the Ministry of Intelligence, the Fifth Brigade managed to assassinate Ali Akbar Ghorbani and Zahra Rajabi in Turkey in 1996. The latter was a senior member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the former was a supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran.
During the trial of a number of terrorists who had played a part in these and other assassinations, the role of the IRGC, Ministry of Intelligence and the regime’s terrorist diplomats in Ankara and Istanbul came to light. These entities play a vital role in recruiting, organizing and employing suitable Turks for terrorist activities.
One of the arrested terrorists by the name of Najmi Aslan confessed that he was recruited through the cultural representative of the Iranian regime in Ankara and was sent to Iran to receive military training. One other terrorist by the name of Shakar who had participated in the kidnapping of Ali Akbar Ghorbani confessed that after assassinating Chitin Amej, a Turkish journalist who was assassinated on March 7 1990, he had fled to Iran and later returned to Turkey using a diplomatic passport.
The IRGC’s espionage and terror activities continue in Turkey to this day. On July 23 2013, a military court in Turkey convicted two Iranian nationals connected to the IRGC with espionage and the sale of confidential documents in regards to Turkish armed forces to IRGC. Turkey’s Erzurum court convicted Shahram Zargham Khoi to 15 years in prison, Mohammad Ali Malek to 13 years and four months and a third defendant, a Turkish national by the name of Timur Agori, to 15 years. The three were accused of receiving money from the IRGC in exchange for secret documents related to the Turkish Armed Forces, the National Intelligence Agency and some public organizations.
Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper published a report on Friday 24 May 2013 stating that a group of prostitutes in the border town of Aqdyr were arrested on charges of spying for Iran. According to the newspaper, a number of Iranian women in this group used temporary marriages and prostitution to extract information from military, security and state officials and pass it on to the IRGC. The report also noted that: “Turkish police received a report about a group comprised of 24 people who were involved in espionage under the cover of selling decorative stones. Everyone in the group was arrested and 10 Iranian women who were part of this group were deported to Iran.”
The Turkish Security Agency announced that during interrogations the women confessed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had provided them with forged documents and helped them to enter the country illegally on many occasions. The women admitted that they were directed by the IRGC to get close to security, military and state officials and were informed of the types of information needed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Intelligence section.
IRGC meddling in other countries
The mullahs' regime also meddles in other countries in the Middle East. In this chapter we only study limited and specific facts on these interventions.
IRGC meddling in Egypt
Because of Egypt’s Muslim population and its history of Islamic fundamentalist movements, it is considered one of the most important targets for the export of terrorism and fundamentalism by the Iranian regime. In recent years, IRGC efforts to export the revolution to Egypt and to support Egyptian fundamentalists have led to the closure of the Iranian interests section in Cairo by the Egyptian government.
After the formation of the Quds Force, the IRGC dedicated its Eighth corps to meddling in North African countries including Egypt. Given that the Quds Force had a base in Sudan, some of its activities in Egypt were directed from Sudan.
Quoting senior Egyptian officials, Egypt’s Al-Shorouq newspaper reported on 15 April 2009 four members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had been arrested. According to this report, “four arrested Iranians had entered Egypt in August and September 2006 with fake passports as Iraqi Shi’ites and their goal was to establish a branch of the Quds Force of the IRGC.”
Sources pointed out that the arrested suspects were very active elements of "the Quds Force" of the IRGC but their commander was a member of IRGC intelligence and close to Quds Force commander Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani. His name in the fake Iraqi passport is "Mohammad Alameddin".
In early January 2013, a group calling itself "Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Egypt" announced its formation. Mohammad Alhazry, Secretary General of the newly-established group claims that the organization has more than four hundred members. Alhazry admitted that like the group’s older brothers, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, the IRGC of Egypt received financial aid from the Islamic Republic.
"Our goal is to fight against Zionism and US imperialism and to establish political, economic and military ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran," Alhazry said, adding that many members of the group are inspired by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that this is why the group’s banner is a mix of Egyptian and Iranian flag colours with a picture of Khamenei in the middle of it.
IRGC meddling in Jordan
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force intervenes in Jordan too. In July 2015, Jordan's Al-Rai newspaper published a detailed report on the arrest of a terrorist affiliated with the Quds Force. It explained that an Iraqi-Norwegian individual belonging to the Quds Force was planning to carry out terrorist acts in Jordan using 45 kilograms of the high explosive RDX, which he had hidden in northern Jordan.
The Jordanian paper explained that in the early 90’s the accused was stationed in the foreign operations section of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. This complex was launched by the Iranian intelligence agencies to offer logistical support and to fight smuggling.
He travelled to France via Switzerland in order to participate in the assassination of former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar. The accused also participated in a remote controlled detonation that led to the killing of a woman in Istanbul. He was then tasked with gathering intelligence on how best to move between provinces and forests in Hashemite Jordan. At this time, he was stationed in the regions of Ghabeh Al-Shaheed and Wasfi Al-Tall, where he buried two plastic containers of explosives. He later moved the explosives to Oman and then to Lebanon.
The Jordanian publication writes about frequent trips by the accused, Khalid Jassim Al-Rubaie, to Iran. During 2009 he went to Iran to visit his family. In 2014 he met and spoke with an Iranian intelligence officer named Seyyed Abbas and then with another intelligence officer known as Sajjad, who asked him to visit the Jordan-Israel border, identify commuting routes and prepare vehicles that had been considered for terrorist operations before returning to Norway.
Jordan recalled its ambassador to Iran in 2016 in protest against the Iranian government's interventionist policies in the Middle East. Iran’s activities in Syria have contributed to a significant rise in drug and weapons smuggling along the Syria-Jordan border, as has been recognized by Jordanian officials. The weapons that have been smuggled include more than 1,000 shotguns, 200 Kalashnikovs, 52 grenades, 5 remote detonators, 45 wireless communication devices and about 7 million narcotic pills, plus 50 pieces of protective gear.
IRGC meddling in UAE
As explained in the previous section, the Sixth Corps of the Quds Force is in charge of the Persian Gulf States and meddling in these countries.
For example, in April 2016, IRGC spies were arrested and tried in the United Arab Emirates. According to international media reports, the UAE Federal Supreme Court condemned four people on charges of spying for Iran and Hezbollah. According to the UAE news agency Wam, three of the defendants were sentenced to 6 months imprisonment on charges of establishing a network within the government that was linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.
The Daily Al Ittihad reported that the Federal Supreme Court sentenced Jassim Ramadan Al-Balushi to three years in prison on charges of spying for Iran. He had a meeting with an Iranian intelligence agent at the embassy in the UAE. Ramadan Al-Balushi has given the Iranian side some secret information about personalities residing in UAE. An Abu Dhabi criminal expert reported on the exchange of information between Al-Balushi and the Iranian intelligence officer.
The prevalence of Iranian intervention via Hezbollah led the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arabic Emirates to place Hezbollah on their list of terrorist organizations in March.
IRGC meddling in Kuwait
One recent example of the meddling of the clerical regime and the terrorist Quds Force in Kuwait involves the terrorist band known as Abdoli, members of which were arrested and prosecuted by the Kuwaiti government. A report in January 2015 writes: “The verdict of the Abdoli terrorist band showed that a number of Iranian diplomats in the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait had been involved in supporting the Abdoli band through training, financial aid and coordination between band members.”
The judgment in this case is 186 pages long and clearly identifies the role of Iranian Embassy staff in the creation and support of Hezbollah cells in Kuwait over a period of two decades.
In the verdict issued by the court in Kuwait, it was found that an Iranian diplomat had helped Hassan Hajieh, the prime suspect who has been sentenced to death.
Hajieh learned about terrorist operations and the smuggling and storage of explosives and weapons from Hassan Abolfazl Zadeh, the Iranian embassy’s first secretary. This diplomat has been identified as the most dangerous Iranian diplomat in Kuwait, and he fled the country in 2010 after the discovery of a spy network. Another Iranian embassy diplomat had given financial aid to the defendants to gather information about Iranian dissidents in Kuwait and provide it to the Iranian Embassy.
In the court ruling, terrorist activities of the cultural section of the Iranian Embassy were also addressed. Abolfazl Ardakani, the embassy’s cultural attaché, had coordinated with a number of convicts, including Mohammad Hassan Hosseini, Zuhair Al-Hamid and Basel Dashti, to facilitate the activities of the gang in Kuwait.
One example of IRGC actions against Qatar
According to IRGC internal reports in January 2016, a plot to abduct Qatari citizens from Iraq had been designed in coordination with security officials in Al Mothana province in Iraq, in the city of Samaveh, and with Shi’ite groups of Al Nojaba movement and Assaib Al-Haq.
One security official in the city of Samaveh who was also a member of the Al Nojaba movement proudly indicated that abductions were carried out by his group with the cooperation of Assaib Al-Haq. He emphasized that such a large operation could not have been possible without the coordination of the province’s officials.
Al Nojaba Movement and Assaib Al-Haq, both Shi’ite militias, are under the control and command of the Quds Force commander. The commander of Al Nojaba Movement, Akram Al-Kaabi, was in Tehran in early January 2016 and has done numerous interviews with Iranian state media.
1.In this report only a very small corner of the IRGC function in the Middle East has been studied, but these facts clearly show how the IRGC has been a factor of warmongering and terrorism throughout the Middle East and there is no country in the region where the IRGC has not meddled or contributed to war, terrorism, or sectarian tensions.
2.While the mullahs' regime calls itself the protector of Islam and Muslims, it has been the cause of most of the killings in these countries by fomenting religious strife between Sunnis and Shi’ites. The scope and scale of crimes committed by the IRGC is absolutely incomparable to that of other groups. The resources provided to the IRGC through the Iranian regime’s state power, embassies, and facilities make it a more powerful force for warmongering and terrorism than even ISIS.
3.The IRGC has created networks of its agents in all of these countries. The common denominator of IRGC mercenaries and groups in various countries is that all these groups consider themselves followers of the Supreme Leader, the ruling dictator of Iran, and have extremist Islamist ideas.
4.The network of IRGC mercenaries who are fighting in various countries is funded by the IRGC and this is the main factor in the activity of this network.
5.Military weapons and explosives are built by the IRGC and distributed in various countries of the region.
1.Enforcing Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council and in particular halting Iranian regime's missile activities and the sending of weapons to other countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
2.Designating the IRGC and all its affiliates as Foreign Terrorist Organizations in the US and placing them on similar lists in the countries of Europe and the Middle East and North Africa.
3.Sanctioning all financial sources and companies affiliated with the IRGC.
4.Banning any purchase and sale of weapons by the IRGC and its affiliates.
5.Expelling the IRGC, Hezbollah and other groups affiliated with them from all the countries of the Middle East, especially Syria and Iraq.
6.International effort to disband paramilitary groups and terrorist networks affiliated with the Quds Force in the region.
Location of 8 IRGC Terrorist Training Camps in Tehran
Imam Ali Garrison
IRGC’s Main Terrorist Training Camp for Foreign Nationals
Imam Ali Academy
IRGC’s Theoretical Training Camp for Foreign Nationals
IRGC’s Special Training Camp for Foreign Nationals
IRGC’s Training Camp for Afghan Nationals
IRGC’s Urban Warfare and terrorist Training Camp for Foreign Nationals
International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)
ISJ was initially formed in 2008 as an informal group of EU parliamentarians to seek justice for the Iranian democratic opposition. In 2014 it was registered as a non-profit NGO in Brussels expanding its membership beyond elected parliamentarians to former officials and other dignitaries with an interest to promote human rights, freedom, democracy, peace and stability. ISJ's campaigns have enjoyed the support of over 4000 parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic.
President: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was vice president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014
Board of Advisors: Patrick Kennedy, Congressman (1995-2011); Günter Verheugen, Vice President of EU Commission (2004-2010); Nicole Fontaine, President of European Parliament (1999-2002); General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001); David Kilgour, Canadian Secretary of State (1997-2003); Ingrid Betancourt ; Prof. Raymond Tanter, President of Iran Policy Committee, Washington D.C.; Prof. Horst Teltschik, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference (1999-2008); Colonel Wesley Martin, Antiterrorism/Force Protection Officer of all Coalition forces in Iraq (2005-2007); Senator Lucio Malan, Quaestor of Italian Senate; Alessandro Pagano MP, President of Committee of Italian Parliamentarians for a Free Iran; Antonio Razzi Secretary of Italian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee; Gérard Deprez MEP, Chair Friends of a Free Iran intergroup European Parliament; Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice President of European Parliament; Tunne Kelam, Member of European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, Co-Chair of British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, former independent reviewer of UK terrorism legislations; Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE, Former Chairman of UK Labour Party; Lord Maginnis of Drumglass; Lord Dholakia OBE, Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrats in House of Lords
European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)
Founded on 4 April 2014, EIFA is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation based in Brussels
President: Struan Stevenson, Chairman of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014), was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland from 1999 to 2014, and Chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004‐14).
Members of the board: Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy; Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Former Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014); Stephen Hughes, Former Vice-President of S&D Group in European Parliament (2009-2014); Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC; Paulo Casaca, Middle East Expert, former MEP (1999-2009); Kimmo Sasi, former President of the Nordic Council (Finland); Sid Ahmed Ghozali, Former Prime Minister of Algeria
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