Iran's IRGC poses biggest security threat to Britain, authorities say

Group reportedly attempting to recruit members of crime gangs to target opponents of Iranian regime

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps take part in a military drill near Bandar Lengeh, Iran. AFP
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British authorities consider Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be the greatest threat to national security amid reports the group is increasing activities in the country.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is said to be concerned over reports that the group is attempting to recruit members of organised crime gangs to target opponents of the Iranian regime.

“The Iranian threat is the one that worries us the most,” a source close to the Home Secretary told The Times.

“It’s a big issue because they are getting much more aggressive and their appetite is increasing. They are very defensive to anyone challenging their regime and just want to stamp it out. They are increasing their agitation.”

The report highlighted the relationship between the Islamic Students Association, whose headquarters are in Hammersmith, West London, and the IRGC. The London-based group is said to have hosted online talks between senior commanders of the IRGC and Muslim students in Britain, in which the latter were urged to join the coming “apocalyptic war”, an investigation by The Jewish Chronicle found.

The talks were live-streamed in the UK and were said to have been the first time commanders “were seen to play a direct role” in disseminating Iranian propaganda in Britain.

The student association told the newspaper: “All our activities are clearly lawful.

“It would appear that you are singling out yet another Muslim group for some kind of inquisition simply because they have chosen to exercise their right to freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom to practise their religion, rights that are established in both domestic and international law.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly last month told the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that Britain's security services had interrupted at least 15 attempted kidnappings on UK soil by Iranian agents since the start of the year.

He said the UK was resolute in its efforts to thwart Iran’s activities.

“We maintain a tough and robust position towards Iran,” he said. “Our actions are in response to their behaviour and if they don't like it, they can and should change their behaviour.

“We have been subjected to a very, very high level of aggression directly in the UK."

Mr Cleverly recently introduced plans to impose new sanctions on Iranian decision-makers in response to the regime's subversive actions on British soil.

The measures would broaden the scope through which the UK could punish the regime, taking aim at Iran for activities that undermine peace and stability in the Middle East as well as for the sale and spread of weapons technology.

The powers could also be used to prolong missile-related measures that are due to expire in October.

Tension between Iran and the West has been building in recent months over the regime’s support of Russia in the war in Ukraine.

Iran has supplied drones to Moscow, allowing Russian forces to attack Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

The House of Commons in January unanimously passed a motion to urge the government to outlaw and designate the IRGC a terrorist group.

The vote was not binding and the government has not moved to act on the recommendation.

Updated: August 06, 2023, 9:24 AM