Aside from all the other perfectly good reasons to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the United States (U.S.) Department of State Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) List, there is one more that it seems no one wants to mention.
The Biden administration seems absolutely desperate to be allowed back into the disastrous July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – or simply, the Iran nuke deal. Maybe it’s Biden’s longing for some legacy “accomplishment” to call his own; or maybe he just yearns to be remembered as the “Anything But Trump” President. Whatever the reason, the Biden administration has been busy giving away the store in Vienna for nine rounds of talks and counting, dating back to late 2021. So far, and although the administration has done its best to conceal what’s actually going on with the negotiations, word coming out through various officials such as Gabriel Noronha, a former State Department official, is that the concessions being granted the Iranian regime under leadership of U.S. Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley are “very dangerous” for U.S. national security as well as for the Middle East region. According to Noronha, a number of delegation members, including U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Iran Richard Nephew, have quit the team because of just such concerns. Those concerns rightly center on the Iranian regime’s documented drive for deliverable nuclear weapons, which renewal of the deal would only legitimize. Adding insult to injury, the American delegates aren’t even allowed in the same room with the Iranians but must participate from another room through the Russians, led by Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulanov, who’s essentially been running the show.
Reportedly under consideration are the wholesale lifting of sanctions on the Iranian regime, release of billions of dollars currently frozen in South Korean banks and elsewhere, and removal of sanctions against top regime terrorists, including former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai and advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Ali Akbar Velayati, who were responsible for the 1994 Iran-Hizballah bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. Also under consideration for sliding out from under sanctions is Iranian IRGC Gen. Hossein Dehghan, who, together with Hizballah terror chieftain, Imad Mughniyeh, was responsible for the 1983 suicide bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 241 U.S. Marines.
Worst of all, listening to State Department spokesman Ned Price, it seems the Biden administration is even considering lifting the designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization…in return, perhaps, for some vague promise from the jihadist regime to “de-escalate” in the ME region, whatever that means. Never mind that the FTO designation is not the only place the IRGC (or its subordinate unit, the Qods Force) is listed as a terrorist organization: removing it from this designation would be touted among jihadis everywhere as a feather in the Tehran regime’s cap and a selling point to attract business investment. As Matt Levitt writes at The Washington Institute, granting this coveted concession would allow Iran to continue sidestepping any accountability for its terror support, human rights abuses, illicit financing, and more.
The Iranian regime has long been named the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It has never stopped funding, training, and weapons support to terror proxies like HAMAS, Hizballah, the Houthis in Yemen, Gaza’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and a clutch of Iraqi Shi’ite terror militias. But for some reason, what’s hardly ever mentioned is the Iranian regime’s decades-long jihad terror relationship with al-Qa’eda and collaboration with it in the attacks of 9/11. Not one president, from G. W. Bush, through Barack Hussein Obama, and even Donald J. Trump, not to mention Joe Biden, has ever publicly held the Iranian regime to account for its role in the most devastating attack ever on American soil. The IRGC, and especially its Qods Force (then under the command of MG Qassem Suleimani), worked closely with Hizballah, Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban in the conception, direction, and execution of those horrific attacks. The Havlish, et al vs. Osama Bin Laden, Iran, et al. legal case concluded in December 2011 with Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York ruling from the bench that Iran and Hizballah were co-responsible with al-Qa’eda for the 9/11 attacks. Of the 41 total affidavits supporting that decision, it is Exhibit 6 (co-written by this author) that details the history of the Iran, Hizballah, al-Qa’eda relationship, including extensive open source citations that document the role of the IRGC and Qods Force.
It’s hard to think of a more important reason why neither the IRGC nor the Qods Force must ever be removed from the FTO list.
The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.