If the Biden administration removes Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the terrorist list, it will be enabling this terrorist organization to gain legitimacy, do more business, obtain more funds, kill and harm more innocent civilians, pursue more aggressively its mission of Jihad, anti-Semitism and the elimination of countries in the region, crack down more forcefully on the Iranian people, and carry out more terrorist plots throughout the world. Pictured: IRGC members on parade, marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, on September 22, 2018, in Tehran. (Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)
To appease the ruling mullahs of Iran, the Biden administration in January 2021 first suspended some of the anti-terrorism sanctions on Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthis that the Trump administration had imposed. Soon after, the Biden administration revoked the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group. Since then, the Houthis have been attacking their neighbors, as recently as this week.
Now, the Biden administration is considering also removing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), called the "Mother of All Terrorist Groups," from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
"In Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al., Judge Daniels held that the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Iran's agencies and instrumentalities, including, among others, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ('IRGC'), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security ('MOIS'), and Iran's terrorist proxy Hezbollah, all materially aided and supported al Qaeda before and after 9/11."
Judge Daniels stated that Iran was liable because its support for Al-Qaeda had allowed the terrorist attacks to occur.
The Biden administration's move to take the IRGC off the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) has raised serious concerns. According to Fox News:
"More than 80 Republicans wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express opposition 'to any move to legitimize the IRGC's reckless, destabilizing, and antisemitic actions throughout the Middle East.'"
The letter continues:
"The IRGC continues to actively participate in acts of terror and destabilizing actions in the region—particularly against one of our closest allies, Israel. It is also a chief supporter and enabler of other FTOs and insurgent groups in the region. These organizations include, but are not limited to: Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Houthi insurgency. The IRGC's actions have led to decades of instability and conflict across the Middle East and the group is responsible for countless deaths, including more than 600 U.S. troops during the occupation of Iraq."
One of the IRGC's elite branches, the Quds Force, deploys its proxies and militia groups to attack the interests and assets of the US and its allies in the Middle East, as well as the soft underbelly of the US, Latin America. The Quds Force exerts significant influence, direct or indirect, through a conglomerate of 40 militia groups, which operate under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The Quds Force is in charge of Iran's extraterritorial operations, which include organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing Iran's predominantly Shiite militia groups in foreign countries; launching wars directly or indirectly via these proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance Iran's ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and assassinating foreign political figures and prominent Iranian dissidents worldwide.
The IRGC's Quds Force has additionally been implicated in failed plans to bomb Saudi and Israeli embassies, including a failed attempt in 2011 to assassinate then-Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir. An investigation revealed that the group was also behind the 2005 assassination of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The IRGC has been smuggling advanced weaponry to its militias and proxies, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, including kits that can convert unguided rockets into precision-guided missiles. According to Danny Danon, then Israeli Ambassador to the UN, from a 2016 letter to UN Security Council members:
"The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights.... these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah."
The IRGC continues transferring weapons and drones to terrorist proxies.
The mission of Jihad for the IRGC is unmistakably clear in Iran's Constitution. Its Preamble states: "the Constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad." The document goes on to say:
"[T]he Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of (Shiite) jihad in God's way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God's (Shiite) law throughout the world in the hope that this century will witness the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others." [Emphasis added.]
Former US officials have been pleading with the Biden administration not to remove the IRGC from the terrorist list. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe recently pointed out in a joint statement that the Iranian regime is a direct and indirect threat to U.S. persons and "previously attempted to conduct lethal operations in the United States". They added:
"These assessments, combined with the IRGC's lengthy history of killing hundreds of Americans... make it clear: The IRGC is a terrorist organization and should remain labeled as such.... The pursuit of an ill-conceived 'deal' should not compel American leaders to acquiesce to the demands of a terrorist regime to deny the truth. American lives are at stake, and this is a time to project strength, not weakness."
If the Biden administration removes the IRGC from the terrorist list, it will be enabling this terrorist organization to gain legitimacy, do more business, obtain more funds, kill and harm more innocent civilians, pursue more aggressively its mission of Jihad, anti-Semitism and the elimination of countries in the region, crack down more forcefully on the Iranian people, and carry out more terrorist plots throughout the world. Does Biden really need this to add to his increasingly notable legacy?
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu