Amir Ali Hajizadeh

Amir Ali Hajizadeh is the internationally designated commander of the Aerospace Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He holds the rank of brigadier general. In this role Hajizadeh oversees Iran’s ballistic missile program.“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://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20190624.aspx; “COUNCIL IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) No 54/2012 of 23 January 2012,” Official Journal of the European Union, January 24, 2012, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:019:0001:0005:EN:PDF. He claims the main purpose of Iran’s missile program is to strike Israel. Hajizadeh is a staunch opponent of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran, the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, France, and Russia, which he saw as an attempt to weaken Iran. As head of the IRGC’s missile program, he routinely boasts of Iran’s military capabilities and regional dominance while directly threatening to strike U.S. and Israeli positions in the Middle East if those countries provoke the Islamic republic.“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; “IRGC General: Iran Has Elaborate Underground Arms Depots,” Tasnim News Agency, October 1, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/10/01/2108829/irgc-general-iran-has-elaborate-underground-arms-depots; “US Targets in Region Within Reach of Iran Missiles: IRGC General,” Tasnim News Agency, September 15, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/09/15/2096376/us-targets-in-region-within-reach-of-iran-missiles-irgc-general.

Hajizadeh has warned that the United States’ intentions in Iraq and Syria is to destroy those countries, but Iran has thwarted those plans.“Iranian Revolutionary Guard says it has ‘father of all bombs,’” Times of Israel, September 17, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-revolutionary-guard-commander-says-it-has-father-of-all-bombs/. Under Hajizadeh’s command, the IRGC Aerospace Force has provided advisory assistance to Iraq’s air force.“Iran’s IRGC Providing Advisory Assistance for Iraq’s Air Force, Commander Says,” Tasnim News Agency, September 20, 2017, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2017/09/20/1525069/iran-s-irgc-providing-advisory-assistance-for-iraq-s-air-force-commander-says. Hajizadeh publicly boasts of Iran’s military prowess, which he has said has no equal.“Iranian Revolutionary Guard says it has ‘father of all bombs,’” Times of Israel, September 17, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-revolutionary-guard-commander-says-it-has-father-of-all-bombs/. He has warned that all American bases and ships within 2,000 kilometers of Iran are within the range of Iranian missiles. According to Hajizadeh, Iran is always fully prepared for war.“IRGC General: Iran Has Elaborate Underground Arms Depots,” Tasnim News Agency, October 1, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/10/01/2108829/irgc-general-iran-has-elaborate-underground-arms-depots; “US Targets in Region Within Reach of Iran Missiles: IRGC General,” Tasnim News Agency, September 15, 2019, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/09/15/2096376/us-targets-in-region-within-reach-of-iran-missiles-irgc-general. Hajizadeh has welcomed a potential Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities because it would give Iran reason to retaliate and destroy Israel.Michal Shmulovich and Yifa Yaakov, “Revolutionary Guard air force chief ‘welcomes’ Israeli strike, promises ‘swift, decisive’ response,” Times of Israel, August 18, 2012, https://www.timesofisrael.com/syria-is-part-of-us-plan-to-take-over-the-middle-east-says-top-iranian-official/. After Iran conducted missile tests in 2012 against a mock U.S. base, Hajizadeh declared the tests were a message against the “bullying” of Iran.Ron Friedman, Ilan Ben Zion, and Associated Press, “Iran fires dozens of missiles at mock US base in military drill,” Times of Israel, July 3, 2012, https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-fires-dozens-of-missiles-at-mock-us-base-in-military-drill/. The U.S. government has linked Hajizadeh to Iran bringing down a U.S. drone on June 20, 2019.“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.

As head of the IRGC’s aerospace division, Hajizadeh also commands the IRGC’s missile development and arsenal. In April 2017, the Trump administration reportedly called for inspections of Iranian military sites in order to monitor the country’s missile program. Hajizadeh has rejected all calls for such oversight. Hajizadeh accused the United States of trying to disarm Iran through various tactics.“No Way for Foreigners to Inspect Iran’s Military Sites: IRGC General,” Tasnim News Agency, August 7, 2017, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2017/08/07/1485648/no-way-for-foreigners-to-inspect-iran-s-military-sites-irgc-general. In March 2018, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Iran to curb its missile program during a visit to Tehran. Hajizadeh accused France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and “the Zionist regime”—i.e., Israel—of manipulating international law for their own benefit.“Defiant Iran says missile production has tripled,” Times of Israel, March 7, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/defiant-iran-says-missile-production-has-tripled/. Hajizadeh has labeled U.S. criticism of Iran’s missile program as a “pretext” for U.S. animosity against Iran.“Trump: Iran lost respect for US after nuke deal, is now emboldened,” Times of Israel, February 6, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-iran-lost-respect-for-us-after-nuke-deal-now-emboldened/.

On January 3, 2020, a U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force.Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe, “Pentagon launched airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, Defense Sec. Mark Esper says,” Washington Post, January 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/defense-secretary-says-iran-and-its-proxies-may-be-planning-fresh-attacks-on-us-personnel-in-iraq/2020/01/02/53b63f00-2d89-11ea-bcb3-ac6482c4a92f_story.html. On January 8, Iran launched a missile strike on the Ain Al-Asad airbase in Iraq. The IRGC claims the attack killed at least 80 Americans. U.S. officials denied any fatalities but at least 34 American troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. Also on January 8, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 179 on board. Hajizadeh claimed Iran mistook the plane for a cruise missile. According to Hajizadeh, the IRGC boosted its aerospace defenses in response to U.S. aggression.“IRGC Aerospace Chief: Ukrainian Jetliner Mistaken for Cruise Missile,” Tasnim News Agency, January 11, 2020, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2020/01/11/2179623/irgc-aerospace-chief-ukrainian-jetliner-mistaken-for-cruise-missile; “34 US troops had brain injuries from Iran’s strike, Pentagon says,” CNBC, January 24, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/24/34-us-troops-had-brain-injuries-from-irans-strike-pentagon-says.html. Hajizadeh warned that the January 8 attack on Ain Al-Asad was just the beginning of Iran’s response to Soleimani’s death. Hajizadeh called the revenge operation “Martyr Soleimani.”“Iran’s Missile Attack on US Base Beginning of Major Operation: Commander,” Tasnim News Agency, January 9, 2020, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2020/01/09/2178632/iran-s-missile-attack-on-us-base-beginning-of-major-operation-commander.

United States

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Amirali Hajizadeh 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://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20190624.aspx.

European Union

The European Union imposed financial sanctions on Amir Ali Haji Zadeh on January 23, 2012.“COUNCIL IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) No 54/2012 of 23 January 2012,” Official Journal of the European Union, January 24, 2012, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:019:0001:0005:EN:PDF.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom added Amir Ali Haji Zadeh to its List of Financial Sanctions Targets on January 23, 2012.“Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation HM Treasury, last updated January 20, 2020, https://ofsistorage.blob.core.windows.net/publishlive/ConList.html.

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