US sanctions on Quds Force associates and IRGC-linked groups

People and groups accused of helping to move gold, electronics and foreign currency worth millions to the Iranian forces and Hezbollah

An Iranian carries a portrait of Qassem Suleimani, the former leader of the IRGC's Quds Force, at a gathering in Tehran last month. AFP
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The US Treasury Department on Monday imposed sanctions on three people associated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' overseas operations arm, and two Bahrain-based groups affiliated with the IRGC, accusing them of funding and facilitating terrorist activities.

Treasury’s Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre announced the move against Ali Qasir, Meghdad Amini and Morteza Hashemi for “providing financial support to the [Quds Force] and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah".

“These complex networks of intermediaries allow the [Quds Force] to obfuscate its involvement in selling Iranian oil … [and] to launder money for Hezbollah officials and front companies, and to broker associated contracts,” a Treasury read.

It accused Mr Amini and Mr Qasir of directing a network of nearly 20 people and front companies that has enabled the movement and sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, electronics and foreign currency to the Quds Force and Hezbollah.

Mr Hashemi, the US government said, controlled companies based in Hong Kong and mainland China, and “has used his access to the international financial system to launder vast sums of money".

The US also imposed sanctions on two Bahrain-based groups tied to the IRGC: Saraya Al Mukhtar and Saraya Al Ashtar.

It accused Saraya Al Mukhtar of receiving financial and logistic support from the IRGC.

“The group has plotted attacks against US personnel in Bahrain and has repeatedly offered cash rewards for the assassination of Bahraini officials," Treasury said.

The US designated Saraya Al Mukhtar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group in 2020.

Saraya Al Ashtar has distinct ties to the IRGC and "has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks against police and security targets in Bahrain", the Treasury said.

It said the group’s members have received weapons and explosives from Iran and training at IRGC-funded camps in Iraq, and senior members have taken refuge in Iran and elsewhere to evade prosecution.

The latest sanctions follow the decision by the administration of US President Joe Biden to keep the IRGC on the foreign terrorist organisations’ list.

Iran had requested the IRGC removal from the list as a condition to revive the nuclear deal signed in 2015.

But those talks have stalled and face a higher likelihood of failure than success, the US recently assessed.

Updated: June 06, 2022, 9:06 PM