Iranian dissidents warn that removing IRGC's terror designation will lead to ‘terrorism and mayhem’
Retired Lieut. Gen. Keith Kellogg discusses the implications of Biden administration lifting some sanctions from Iran and unfreezing billions in assets on 'Sunday Night in America.'NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
A top Iranian resistance group is warning that any move to take the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps off the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list will "heighten terrorism and mayhem" in the region, amid fears the Biden administration will make such a move as part of negotiations to bring Iran back into the 2015 nuclear deal.
"A potential IRGC exclusion from the FTO list and taking these individuals off the terror blacklist, as requested by Iran’s ruling theocracy, will no doubt heighten terrorism and mayhem in the region," the report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), released Thursday, said.
As talks are ongoing in Vienna to bring Iran back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which both the U.S. and Iran had left, Iran has reportedly been demanding the removal of the FTO designation for the IRGC.
The designation was put in place by the Trump administration in 2019, which also launched a strike to take out IRGC’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who headed up its paramilitary Quds Forces.
This image taken from video footage aired by Iranian state television on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, shows the launch of a rocket by Iran's Revolutionary Guard carrying a Noor-2 satellite in northeastern Shahroud Desert, Iran.(Iranian state television via AP)
Israel’s prime minister said last month Iran is making the demand, adding that Iran is "now asking to let the biggest terror organization on earth off the hook."
The report by the NCRI, which calls for a secular, democratic and non-nuclear Iran, said the designation "handicapped many of the IRGC-related foreign financial transactions."
The report outlines the IRGC’s work in military and terrorist operations in other countries in the region, via proxies, and the training of foreign mercenaries in places like Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. It also outlines allegations it funded Hamas, and also looked to organize assassination attempts on U.S. soil. It supports the NCRI’s previous reports about the IRGC’s use of drones and naval proxies.
"The IRGC’s involvement in research & development of weapons of mass destruction, ceaseless terrorist activities to foment mayhem, destruction and instability across the Middle East, its financial empire to fund its nefarious activities inside Iran and abroad, make this terror outfit a serious global threat," the report says.
It also outlines how the IRGC is used against the Iranian people, particularly after uprisings from dissidents have shaken the regime’s grip on power, in order to project an image of its own strength onto the people.
The group warns that the outreach and JCPOA talks by the U.S. and its allies have only served to embolden the regime in Tehran’s terrorist activities.
"The continued offers of concessions by Western countries and lack of accountability for the regime’s terrorism, have emboldened Tehran to step up its terrorism in the region," Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI’s Washington office, said with the release of the report.
Jafarzadeh warned that any move to pull the FTO designation from the IRGC would be "counterproductive at best."
"Instead of holding the regime accountable for its stepped-up terrorism, the West would be rewarding terrorism, leading to even more violence," he said, arguing instead that more sanctions are warranted due to the regime’s continued terrorist activities in the region.
Those concerns about an FTO removal have been shared in Congress. A bipartisan group of 21 House members, including 11 Democrats, wrote to President Biden expressing concern that a new Iran deal may not be tough enough.
"Among other issues, we are highly concerned about reports indicating the potential lifting of the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and of the sanctions placed on members of the office of the Supreme Leader," the letter said.
The report comes two days after the IRGC launched a second reconnaissance satellite into space.
"We are destined to reach space and praise be to God we did," said Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who leads the Guard's aerospace division. "Now the way has been paved and we must certainly do bigger things."
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.