After the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad, the Pentagon in a statement said that the Iranian general was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.
The Pentagon said that Gen Soleimani and his Quds Force “were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more”.
The US State Department summed up its case against Gen Soleimani in a statement issued on April 8, 2019, in which it announced that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), of which Soleimani’s Quds Force was the overseas operations arm, would be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) with effect from April 15.
The State Department alleged that the “IRGC, with the support of the Iranian government, has engaged in terrorist activity since its inception 40 years ago”, and that “the IRGC—most prominently through its Qods (Quds) Force—has the greatest role among Iran’s actors in directing and carrying out a global terrorist campaign”.
The State Department statement listed several alleged IRGC and Quds Force operations. Iran has always denied all these allegations.
# According to the State Department, the regime in Tehran “is responsible for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq since 2003”. This, according to the US, “accounts for 17% of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies”.
# In recent years, Quds Force plots have been uncovered in countries including Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain, and Turkey.
# 2011: The Quds Force plotted a terrorist attack against the Saudi Ambassador to the US on American soil.
# 2012: Quds operatives were arrested in Turkey for plotting an attack, and in Kenya for planning a bombing.
# January 2018: Germany found 10 IRGC operatives plotting terror in that country, and convicted another operative for surveilling a German-Israeli group.
# September 2018: A US federal court found Iran and the IRGC liable for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 Americans.
# Support to terror organisations: According to the State Department, Iran funds, equips, and fuels terrorism, violence, and unrest across the Middle East and around the world. “The IRGC continues to provide financial and other material support, training, technology transfer, advanced conventional weapons, guidance, or direction to a broad range of terrorist organizations, including Hizballah (Hezbollah), Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib Hizballah (Hezbollah) in Iraq, al-Ashtar Brigades in Bahrain, and other terrorist groups in Syria and around the Gulf.”
# Support to al-Qaeda: The US alleges that Iran allows al-Qaeda operatives to live in the country, and “move money and fighters to South Asia and Syria”. In 2016, the US had identified and sanctioned three senior al-Qaeda operatives who had links with the 9/11 hijackers.
The US designated Iran a State Sponsor of Terrorism in January 1984. Ever since, Iran has been subjected to a number of sanctions and restrictions, including restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defence exports and sales, exports controls of dual use items, and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
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