Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is reported to be officially proscribed as a terror group in the UK.
The IRGC, a branch of the Iranian army that is close to the theocratic regime and has been accused of carrying out attacks on Jews and other civilians around the world has already designated as a terror group by the US, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
It comes days after Foreign Secretary James Cleverly reaffirmed that the IRGC had been sanctioned by the UK “in its entirety” following calls for the group to be banned under UK terrorism legislation.
Last week, Jewish groups, Britain’s former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, and the country’s foremost expert on Iranian regime activities overseas told the JC that they believed proscription was a necessary step.
Kasra Aarabi, the Iran Programme Lead at the Tony Blair Institute, said: “The IRGC is no different from the likes of Isis or Al-Qaeda.
“It uses indoctrination to radicalise its recruits in a hardline ideology that calls for not only killing Iranians who are opposed to the regime but torturing them before their death.” Mr Aarabi listed the modus operandi of the group as “terrorism, hostage taking, and hijackings”.
And now, Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Security Minister Tom Tugendhat have reportedly backed the move, which could see the group banned within weeks.
On Tuesday, the Daily Telegraph reported that the government had been accumulating evidence against the IRGC, including intelligence shared by security services.
Members of proscribed groups or those who invite support for them, attending their meetings or publicly displaying their logos, risk up to 14 years in jail.
Open support for the IRGC has been recorded in Britain in recent years, with footage of its gun-emblazoned flag being displayed during a May 2021 anti-Israel demonstration in central London being shared by Iranian news agency Mehr News.
The flag of IRGC(Revolutionary Guard) in London at rally for Palestine.— Darya Safai MP (@SafaiDarya) May 24, 2021
That a flag of a terrorist group, which has been organising proxy wars in the region for years & supports all terrorist groups, including Hamas now,is displayed in a western country is worrying &unacceptable pic.twitter.com/XkKTpYMmRO
Then backbencher Mr Tugendhat previously called for the organisation to be banned in the wake of the incident.
The shift in policy would represent a major cooling of the Foreign Office's approach to Tehran, with whom it is currently re-negotiating the controversial Iran deal, in a bid to stop the regime from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In November, MI5 director general Ken McCallum named Iran the top threat to UK security, alongside Russia and China in a rare public speech.
He said: “Iran projects threat to the UK directly, through its aggressive intelligence services. At its sharpest, this includes ambitions to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime."
Last month, the UK sanctioned 10 Iranian officials connected to the regime’s judicial and prison systems, as part of efforts to punish the theocracy for its ongoing suppression of protesters.
Canada recently barred the IRGC’s 10,000 plus senior officials from entering its borders and classified it under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act usually used for people and groups accused of war crimes.
The United States has proscribed the IRGC since 2019 as part of its list of “foreign terrorist organisations”. In November, German prosecutors accused the IRGC of organising a string of attempted terror attacks against Jews in synagogues.
Iranian officials have repeatedly denied that the IRCG is responsible for terror.
Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary may ban groups that they can “reasonably believe” are linked to terrorism, and who it would be “proportionate” to sanction.
A total of 78 organisations are currently proscribed as terror groups by UK law, including Islamist groups Al Qaeda, Islamic State, and Hamas.
President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, welcomed the plans on Tuesday, writing: “Reports that the UK is preparing to proscribe the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are extremely encouraging. The IRGC is a key architect of international terror, providing major support to organisations including Hezbollah and Hamas.
“The Board of Deputies has been among those campaigning for this proscription. We commend the Government for this decision, which will send an unequivocal message to the Ayatollah's regime.”