The United States designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Trump said in a statement April 8, 2019.

“The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” he emphasized.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was added April 15, 2019, to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. The list includes 67 other terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Kataeb Hezbollah, and al-Ashtar Brigades.

It was the first time the United States named a part of another government as a foreign terrorist organization.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps emerged in 1979 to carry out the regime’s revolutionary goals at home and abroad. It operates independently from Iran’s military, answering only to the Supreme Leader. Primarily through its Quds Force, the IRGC carries out and directs Tehran’s dangerous and destabilizing global terrorist campaigns.

The IRGC terrorizes many countries

In recent years, IRGC Quds Force terrorist planning has been uncovered and disrupted in many countries, including Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain and Turkey. According to a State Department fact sheet, the IRGC:

  • Plotted a terrorist attack in 2011 against the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. on American soil. (Fortunately, this plot was foiled.)
  • Was found liable in 2018 for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 Americans.
  • Planned a bomb attack in Kenya and plotted an attack in Turkey. (IRGC forces were arrested in 2012).
  • Was involved in a terrorist plot in Germany in 2018. Separately, an IRGC operative was convicted for conducting surveillance on a German-Israeli group.
Rows of plastic sheeting piled with metal pieces and other debris in front of damaged building (© AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. and Saudi officials gather evidence after the June 25, 1996, bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The explosion killed 19 and injured 260. (© AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the IRCG “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.”

The IRGC also operates and controls a major portion of Iran’s economy through both licit and illicit means, the secretary said. “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.”

Actions have consequences

President Trump said the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization “sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences.”

“We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior,” Trump said.

A version of this article was previously published April 8, 2019.