President Trump on Monday slapped the “terror” label on a key part of Iran’s muscle – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – putting a spotlight on the mullah-led regime’s global agenda.
The president, in a White House statement, said he “is holding the Iranian regime accountable by targeting the primary entity that carries out its global campaign of terror.”
The Foreign Terrorist Organization designation now will be reviewed by Congress.
The unprecedented move is part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to counter Iranian terrorism around the world, the announcement said. It will increase financial pressure on Iran and isolate it more from the rest of the world.
One goal is to deprive it of the resources it needs to carry out terror.
The White House said the IRGC is running “front companies and institutions around the world to fund terror.”
It is the first time the U.S. has designated a part of another government as a terror group. The White House explained it the Iranian regime’s use of terror makes it fundamentally different from other governments.
Iran employs terror as a tool of its government, through the IRGC, which “provides funding, equipment, training and logistical support to terrorist groups.”
For example, in 2011, the IRBC Qods Force “plotted a brazen attack on the Saudi ambassador to the United States in Washington.” It was discovered and thwarted.
Other terror attacks were uncovered in Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain and Turkey.
“The Iranian regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, spending nearly a billion dollars every year to support terrorism,” the White House said. “The regime provides funding to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib Hizballah, al-Ashtar Brigades, and others.”
The designation makes it a federal crime for any U.S. company to do business with the IRGC.
Trump earlier withdrew from Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear weapons deal because it “failed to protect” America. He reactivated sanctions that had been lifted by Obama, who also shipped literal pallets of cash to Iran.
Fox News described the move as an “unprecedented step to ramp up pressure on Tehran.”
Anticipating the designation, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter that Trump “should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”
The move also freezes any assets the IRGC may have in the U.S.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton in recent weeks have called for the move.
The decision puts IRGC in the same category as al-Qaida and ISIS.
There are about 60 groups on the list worldwide.