Senior commanders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are using a London-based student organisation to pipe extremist antisemitic propaganda and calls for violence into British universities.
The speakers, some of whom who are sanctioned by Britain for human rights abuses, have played key roles in crushing of dissent in Iran.
This is the first time that IRGC commanders have been seen to play a direct role in disseminating regime propaganda in the UK.
The JC has identified eight IRGC leaders who have addressed UK student audiences since early 2020.
The former methodist church in Hammersmith where the supporters gathered (Photo: John Nguyen / JNVisuals)
Recordings obtained by this newspaper reveal that one commander, Saeed Ghasemi, told British students that the Holocaust was “fake”, boasted of training al-Qaeda terrorists, and urged his audience to join “the beautiful list of soldiers” who would fight and kill Jews in a coming apocalyptic war.
Another, Hossein Yekta, claimed Jews “created homosexuality” and urged his audience to “raise the flag of the Islamic revolution, Islam and martyrdom”. Students should see themselves as “holy warriors”, he said, promising that the “era of the Jews” would soon be at an end.
The disclosures sparked renewed demands from leading MPs and security experts for the government to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist group, making organising similar talks a criminal offence. The move has been resisted by the Foreign Office.
The talks, which were live streamed from Iran and viewed by tens of thousands of people, were arranged by the Islamic Students Association of Britain, which has a network of branches across the country.
It is based at a converted Methodist church in Hammersmith, west London, just a mile from a synagogue.
Its chair, Mohammad Hussain Ataee Dolat Abadi, a regime loyalist, was granted a rare audience with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January. The Iranian regime leader praised his activities.
In the wake of the JC’s revelations, Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, led calls to proscribe the IRGC to outlaw its propaganda activities. “The case for strong preventive action seems clear-cut,” he said.
Tory MP Alicia Kearns, the chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, said: “In organising such despicable talks, the Islamic Students Association of Britain acts at best as a willing propaganda arm of the Iranian regime, and at worst as an agitator for state sponsored terrorism.
“To broadcast the jihadist and deeply antisemitic ideas of senior members of the IRGC to students across Britain is a brazen act of radicalisation. We must pursue and prosecute those responsible trying to incite violence here in the UK.”
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy added: “The invitation of IRGC commanders and other speakers who glorify its actions to speak to British students is incredibly concerning. Robust action is needed now.”
Security and intelligence expert Anthony Glees, Emeritus Professor at the University of Buckingham, said: “This kind of penetration is a perilous development that may well be damaging national security. America has proscribed these people and we should too.”
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis added: “The British state has long resisted the proscription of the IRGC.
“The JC’s investigation provides clear evidence of the dangers of allowing this organisation to operate unfettered.
"It represents a threat to life and to the UK, and it’s time to get the Foreign Office to act to stop this happening.”
A spokesman for the CST said: “If these hateful comments had been made by somebody speaking in this country they would be prosecuted for it. The organisers and hosts of these talks ought to be held to account.”
The Islamic Students Association of Britain’s chair Ataee Dolat Abadi did not respond to requests for comment.
In a statement issued this week by the group after the publication of this story, Abadi said he has not been the chair of this group since October 2022.
However, as of January 2023 he remained the chair of its parent organisation, the Union of Islamic Students Associations in Europe, according to Ayatollah Khamenei’s official website.
The statement from Abadi said: "I am no longer chair of the 'Islamic Students Associations of Britain' and have not been since 1/10/2022, which is when elections took place.
"Islamic Students Associations have never had any direct or indirect affiliation to the IRGC or any army, government or security group anywhere in the world and neither have I."
He added: Islamic Students Associations have never held any physical gathering/deminar/conference in Kanoon Towhid or anywhere else with any of the falsely accused individuals."