(New York, N.Y.) — Last Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Shahram Poursafi, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), for plotting a murder-for-hire attack against former U.S. National Security Adviser Ambassador John R. Bolton. Two days later, 24-year-old Hadi Matar stabbed British-American author Salman Rushdie during a lecture in western New York. Iran denied involvement in the attack but Matar reportedly had direct contact with IRGC members on social media. Over 30 years later, Iran maintains its 1989 fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death.
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), please click here.
Bolton had resigned from his position three months prior to the January 2020 U.S. airstrike that killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, but Iranian leaders have threatened retaliation against U.S. officials. Militants under Soleimani’s command killed more than 500 U.S. service members in Iraq between 2005 and 2011, and U.S. intelligence linked Soleimani to a 2011 assassination attempt targeting Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States.
The IRGC plot also reportedly targeted former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The IRGC, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, is Iran’s primary instrument for exporting the ideology of the Islamic Revolution worldwide and the country’s main link to its terrorist proxies around the world. The Quds Force, the IRGC’s expeditionary force, has played a key role in support of Syrian regime forces in that country’s civil war and is suspected of involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed more than 80 and wounded about 300. Under Solemani’s successor, Ismail Ghaani, the Quds Force continues to provide training, funding, and weapons to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Weeks after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Ghaani to the Quds Force leadership, Ghaani held phone calls with the leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). His first international trip after his promotion was to Aleppo, Syria.
Iran continues to support violent Shiite militias in Iraq, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), the Badr Organization, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HHN), and Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada (KSS). Iran is also known to harbor senior leaders of al-Qaeda, including Saif al-Adel, the likely successor to Ayman al-Zawahiri. In February 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Iran on its so-called black list of countries alongside North Korea for its failure to comply with banking controls against money laundering and terror financing. The United States accuses the Central Bank of Iran of financing the IRGC, Quds Force, and Hezbollah. The Central Bank has itself been designated since 2019.
To read CEP’s resource Iran and its Proxies, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource Qasem Soleimani, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource Ismail Ghaani, please click here.