The Foreign Office is making a big mistake in failing to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist group. The 100,000 strong organisation, the most powerful wing of Iran’s security apparatus, was established after the 1979 Islamic revolution. For decades it has been at the heart of Iranian support for global terrorism on foreign soil, including the UK and Europe. It also arms and supports militant groups across the Middle East.
By any rational measure the group meets all the criteria for a ban under the 2000 Terrorism Act. Yet the Foreign Office continues to avoid the necessary step of proscribing the revolutionary guards, despite fresh evidence from MI5 of its growing menace.
Since the start of 2022, the UK has responded to more than 15 credible threats to kill or kidnap British or UK-based individuals by the Iranian regime. Tehran has publicly called for the killing and capture of the people targeted and in some cases detained or harassed their family members in Iran. There were even warnings last year of an Iranian hit squad targeting British-Iranian journalists in London.
The Foreign Office’s wholly inadequate answer to a heightened risk of attacks inside the UK is to try and sell its new beefed-up sanctions regime. For the first time this will allow ministers to sanction individuals for their activities inside the UK, and not just in Iran.
In total, more than 350 Iranian individuals and organisations are now subject to UK sanctions. James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs there ‘will be no hiding place for those who seek to do us harm’.