Peers and MPs demand Sunak proscribe the IRGC as a terror group

Signatories to a letter sent to the PM include Labour left-winger Shami Chakrabarti and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman


IRGC terror chief Ismail Ghani, who held talks with Hamas and Hezbollah before the October 7 massacre (photo: Wikipedia)

Almost 140 MPs and peers including former cabinet ministers from all the main political parties have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to demand that his government finally takes action to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.

The letter says that in the wake of the IRGC-led drone and missile attack on Israel last weekend, the need to proscribe the IRGC, which the government has been considering since the start of last year, is “more crucial and pertinent” than ever.

However, earlier this week Sunak’s spokesman said that the government did not intend to take this step, and that he considered that the UK sanctions levelled against the IRGC as an entity and some of its commanders were sufficient. He repeated the argument that has been made by the Foreign Office since early 2023, that proscription would lead to the closure of the British embassy in Tehran, so depriving Britain of the opportunity to engage diplomatically with the Iranian regime and cutting off the flow of valuable intelligence.

“The IRGC has never posed a greater threat within the UK,” says the letter, which was delivered on Thursday morning. “A range of their activities have been publicly disclosed, causing significant concern across our nation. These include assassination plots uncovered and foiled by MI5, intelligence gathering on British-Jewish targets by UK-based criminal networks, intimidation of journalists including Iranian journalists, and radicalisation in British Islamic centres.

“Additionally, the group has held British citizens as hostages and perpetrated numerous killings. Similar patterns of malicious behaviour have been observed by our European allies, including terror attacks in Germany and thwarted plots in Greece and France. Last month, IRGC thugs reportedly even carried out a stabbing against an Iran International journalist outside his home in Wimbledon” – a reference to the attack on the Iranian dissident TV presenter Pouria Zeraati.

The 137 signatories include Lord Walney, the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, and span a wide political spectrum, running from the Labour left-winger Baroness Chakrabarti, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, to the right-wing former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was known to support proscription before she was sacked by Sunak in November.

It also includes both co-chairs on the All-Party Group on UK-Israel, the Conservative MP Bob Blackman and his Labour colleague Christian Wakeford, and four Liberal Democrats headed by the party’s deputy leader in the House of Lords, Lord Dholkia. Among the ex-ministers are former defence secretary Liam Fox MP and John Spellar, who held a series of Ministry of Defence posts in the last Labour government and is a longstanding member of the defence select committee.

The letter points out that the IRGC’s-backed terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad unleashed the October 7 massacre, while its proxies Hezbollah and the Houthis were respectively mounting attacks on northern Israel and western shipping in the Red Sea. “We know that prior to October 7th, IRGC chief Ismail Ghani travelled around the Middle East to unite Hamas and Hezbollah in their agenda of terror,” it says.

“The Government has rightly proscribed Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups which have been an essential step in combatting extremism and terrorism here in the UK, but it is not enough,” the letter concludes. “Given that the IRGC is the primary source of ideological radicalisation, funding, equipment, and training for these dangerous groups, it is the responsibility of the Government to act against the root cause as well.

“Proscription of the IRGC has deep support across Parliament, even prior to this dangerous escalation. The need to proscribe the IRGC is more crucial each day – the Government must answer this call.”

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