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US designates Iran's elite military force as terrorist organisation: Mike Pompeo's full statement

The United States on Monday designated Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

US designates Iran's elite military force as terrorist organisation: Mike Pompeo's full statement
Reuters Photo

The United States on Monday designated Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

Here is the full statement of Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State:

Good morning. I’m here to make an important foreign policy announcement concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran. Today the United States is continuing to build its maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian regime. I am announcing our intent to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including its Qods Force, as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This designation will take effect one week from today.

This is the first time that the United States has designated a part of another government as an FTO. We’re doing because the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government. This historic step will deprive the world’s leading state sponsor of terror the financial means to spread misery and death around the world.

Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not connected to the IRGC in any material way. It also gives the U.S. Government additional tools to counter Iranian-backed terrorism.

This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and surprise no one, and it builds on the more than 970 Iranian individuals and entities that the Trump administration has already sanctioned.

For 40 years, the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has actively engaged in terrorism and created, supported, and directed other terrorist groups. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled. It regularly violates the laws of armed conflict; it plans, organizes, and executes terror campaigns all around the world. From the moment it was founded, the IRGC’s mandate was to defend and export the regime’s revolution by whatever means possible. The IRGC institutionalized terrorism shortly after its inception, directing horrific attacks against the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the U.S. embassy annex in 1984 alongside the terror group it midwifed, Lebanese Hizballah. Its operatives have worked to destabilize the Middle East from Iraq to Lebanon to Syria and to Yemen.

With this designation, the Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality. The IRGC will take its rightful place on the same list as terror groups its supports: Lebanese Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Kata’ib Hizballah, among others, all of which are already designated as foreign terrorist organizations.

The long list of IRGC backed terrorist incidences is ample justification for today’s decision. I want to just give you a handful of examples.

Last September a federal court in the United States found Iran and the IRGC responsible for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 American service members. In 2011 the United States foiled an IRGC Qods Force plot right here in Washington, D.C. to bomb a restaurant. The attempt was to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States of America.

Outside of the United States, the IRGC’s terror campaign is just as active. In 2012 four Qods Force operatives were apprehended after plotting to attack Israeli targets in Turkey. In that same year, two other Qods Force operatives were arrested in Kenya for planning a bomb attack while the Qods Force also directed a bomb attack that targeted Israeli diplomats. And as recently as January 2018, German authorities uncovered 10 suspected Qods Force operatives active in their country. The IRGC supports Palestinian terror groups that target innocent civilians, and it helped create U.S. designated terror groups both in Lebanon and in Iran. And the IRGC also backs the murderous Assad regime which gasses and slaughters its own people.

Our designation makes clear to the world that Iranian regime not only supports terrorist groups, but engages in terrorism itself. This designation also brings unprecedented pressure on figures who lead the regime’s terror campaign, individuals like Qasem Soleimani. He is the commander of the Qods Force and oversees Iran’s forces deployed to advance the Islamic Revolution through terrorism and other forms of violence. He doles out the regime’s profits to terrorist groups across the region and around the world.

The blood of the 603 American soldiers the Iranian regime has found to have killed in Iraq is on his hands and on the hands of the IRGC more broadly. Inexplicably the regime has faced no accountability from the international community for those deaths. Far from being an arbitrary attack on Iran, our pressure campaign imposes just and long overdue consequences for the regime’s malign activity.

We should not also forget the IRGC’s central role in the nationwide con artistry and corruption of the regime’s leaders which they perpetrate against the regime’s own people. Other governments and the private sector will now see more clearly how deeply the IRGC has enmeshed itself in the Iranian economy through both licit and illicit means.

In just this past July, the city council of Tehran announced that the IRGC Cooperative Foundation, which manages the IRGC’s investments, has embezzled more than $1 billion from the city of Tehran. The next month, a former councilmember accused the long-time mayor of Tehran of steering contracts to the IRGC. It’s no coincidence that the mayor also formerly served as an IRGC commander and the chief of Iran’s police state. Back in 2017, Tehran arrested several IRGC commanders involved with the Cooperative Fund for corruption, including the IRGC’s financial architect, Masoud Mehrdadi.

Then there’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s old college pal, Sadeq Mahsouli. They call him “the billionaire general.” He went from being a low-level IRGC officer to one of Iran’s richest men, all thanks to scoring construction and oil contracts from companies linked to the IRGC.

The leaders of Iran are racketeers, not revolutionaries. The Iranian people deserve better than to be governed by this cadre of hypocritical and corrupt officials. They are opportunists.

And on a final note, the IRGC is also responsible for wrongly detaining U.S. persons, several of whom remain in captivity in Iran. The American people should know that we are working diligently to bring each of those individuals home.

With this designation, we are sending a clear signal, a clear message to Iran’s leaders, including Qasem Soleimani and his band of thugs, that the United States is bringing all pressure to bear to stop the regime’s outlaw behavior. We ask that our allies and partners around the world do the same. Thank you.