Ali Reza Tangsiri

Ali Reza Tangsiri is the U.S.-designated commander of the naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He has held the position since 2018 and has since openly threatened U.S. and other international ships in the Persian Gulf.“Who Are the 8 Guards Commanders Sanctioned By U.S.,” Radio Farda, June 25, 2019, https://en.radiofarda.com/a/who-are-the-8-guards-commanders-sanctioned-by-u-s-/30019621.html; “Leader appoints new Revolutionary Guards' Navy cmdr.,” Mehr News Agency, August 23, 2018, https://en.mehrnews.com/news/137031/Leader-appoints-new-Revolutionary-Guards-Navy-cmdr. He holds the rank of rear admiral.“RGC Navy Monitors All Foreign Vessels in Persian Gulf, Commander Says,” Tasnim News Agency, December 15, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/12/15/2160777/irgc-navy-monitors-all-foreign-vessels-in-persian-gulf-commander-says.

Tangsiri is vocally anti-American, which has reportedly endeared him to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei appointed Tangisiri commander of the IRGC’s naval forces on August 23, 2018. Khamenei charged Tangsiri with boosting the navy’s combat readiness in coordination with other sectors of the IRGC. Tangsiri replaced Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who was appointed the IRGC’s deputy commander.“Who Are the 8 Guards Commanders Sanctioned By U.S.,” Radio Farda, June 25, 2019, https://en.radiofarda.com/a/who-are-the-8-guards-commanders-sanctioned-by-u-s-/30019621.html; “Leader appoints new Revolutionary Guards' Navy cmdr.,” Mehr News Agency, August 23, 2018, https://en.mehrnews.com/news/137031/Leader-appoints-new-Revolutionary-Guards-Navy-cmdr.

Under Tangsiri’s command, the IRGC Navy has harassed and threatened international ships traveling in the Persian Gulf.“IRGC Navy Monitors All Foreign Vessels in Persian Gulf, Commander Says,” Tasnim News Agency, December 15, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/12/15/2160777/irgc-navy-monitors-all-foreign-vessels-in-persian-gulf-commander-says. The U.S. government accuses Tangsiri of sitting “atop a structure” responsible for the sabotage of vessels in international waters.“Treasury Targets Senior IRGC Commanders Behind Iran’s Destructive and Destabilizing Activities,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 24, 2019, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm716. Tangsiri has openly threatened U.S. and British ships in the Persian Gulf.“IRGC Navy Commander Gen. Alireza Tangsiri: Israeli Presence in Persian Gulf Could Ignite a War; We Can Seize Any Ship, Even If It Is Part of a U.S.-British Military Convoy,” MEMRI, August 12, 2019, https://www.memri.org/tv/irgc-navy-commander-general-tangsiri-israeli-presence-persian-gulf-ignite-war-seize-military-ships-threat/transcript. He has claimed to know multiple people who would undertake suicide attacks against U.S. ships in the gulf. Tangsiri has reportedly been involved in kidnappings of U.S., Canadian, and Australian personnel in the Persian Gulf.“Who Are the 8 Guards Commanders Sanctioned By U.S.,” Radio Farda, June 25, 2019, https://en.radiofarda.com/a/who-are-the-8-guards-commanders-sanctioned-by-u-s-/30019621.html.

Khamenei has threatened U.S. ships traveling in the Persian Gulf, which he has claimed belongs to Iran and its neighbors.“Commander: IRGC Standing Firm against Foreigners in Persian Gulf,” Tasnim News Agency, February 23, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/02/23/1953602/commander-irgc-standing-firm-against-foreigners-in-persian-gulf. According to Tangsiri, the navy routinely monitors ships and questions them about their nationality, origin, and destination. Echoing Khamenei, Tangsiri has asserted all foreign vessels in the gulf, including those belonging to the United States, must answer to the IRGC because the gulf belongs to Iran and other neighboring nations.“IRGC Navy Monitors All Foreign Vessels in Persian Gulf, Commander Says,” Tasnim News Agency, December 15, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/12/15/2160777/irgc-navy-monitors-all-foreign-vessels-in-persian-gulf-commander-says. Tangsiri has repeatedly warned that Iran would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz passage in the Persian Gulf if U.S. sanctions target Iran’s oil industry. In April 2019, he declared that Iran’s military power is increasing despite U.S. sanctions and again threatened to close the waterway.“Iran may close Hormuz Strait if not able to use it: IRGC navy commander,” Press TV, April 22, 2019, https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/22/594063/IRGC-Tangsiri-Al-Alam-Strait-Hormuz.

The United States initially designated Tangsiri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC on June 24, 2019.“Issuance of Executive Order of June 24, 2019, ‘Imposing Sanctions with Respect to Iran;’ Iran-related Designations; Counter Terrorism Designations,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 24, 2019, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20190624. On February 3, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Treasury levied secondary sanctions on Tangsiri for his role on the board of directors of the U.S.-sanctioned Paravar Pars Company, an Iranian developer of unmanned aerial vehicles. Along with Tangsiri, the United States sanctioned six other Paravar Pars board members for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Paravar Pars. The United States and European Union had both previously sanctioned Paravar Pars for manufacturing Shahed-series unmanned aerial vehicles for the IRGC Aerospace Force.“Treasury Sanctions Board of Directors of Iranian UAV Manufacturer,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 3, 2023, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1246.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
Type(s) of Organization:
Military, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Islamist, Khomeinist, Shiite, state actor
Position(s):
Commander of the IRGC Navy

The IRGC is an Iranian government agency tasked with defending the regime against internal and external threats. The IRGC uses secret police methods against its opponents within Iran, and terrorist tactics against its enemies abroad.

  • Designations
  • Rhetoric

United States

  • The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Ali Reza Tangsiri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC on June 24, 2019.“Issuance of Executive Order of June 24, 2019, “Imposing Sanctions with Respect to Iran;” Iran-related Designations; Counter Terrorism Designations,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 24, 2019, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20190624.

    The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury levied secondary sanctions on Ali Reza Tangsiri on February 3, 2023.“Iran-related Designations and Designation Update; Non-Proliferation Designations; Counter Terrorism Designation Update,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 3, 2023, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20230203.

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On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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