Report compares Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to Daesh, Al-Qaeda

The IRGC’s interpretation of Islam bears a “striking” resemblance to the extremist teachings of Sunni groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh, the report said. (AFP)
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Updated 04 February 2020

Report compares Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to Daesh, Al-Qaeda

  • The IRGC is able to operate “unhindered” by safeguards normally employed to monitor and restrict propaganda by Salafist-jihadist groups

LONDON: Western governments and international bodies, including the EU, should designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, the London-based Tony Blair Institute for Global Change said in a report published on Tuesday.

The IRGC acts as an “institutionalized militia,” and uses its vast resources to spread a “mission of jihad” through an “ideological army” of recruits and proxies, said the report, titled “Beyond Borders: The Expansionist Ideology of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” 

The IRGC’s interpretation of Islam bears a “striking” resemblance to the extremist teachings of Sunni groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh, the report added.

The institute published its findings on the back of work to translate training manuals, used and freely distributed by the IRGC online, into English from Farsi for the first time. 

Its analysis of the material uncovered what it called a “formalized system of indoctrination that seeks to radicalize its recruits with an extremist Islamist ideology.”

 Tony Blair, former UK prime minister and executive chairman of the institute, said the international community needs to recognize the role that the IRGC plays in spreading terrorism and extremism.

“The IRGC is not simply an arm of the state, it is a body dedicated to advancing an ideology based on an extreme and intolerant distortion of Islam. It is time we recognized this formally,” he said.

“Extremist ideology gives rise to violent extremism. Defeating it, and calling out those groups and organizations which promote it, is a vital part of a peaceful and prosperous future for the region.”

The report found that the IRGC’s indoctrination process includes promoting a universal Shiite Islamist worldview that it said is “violent and absolutist,” and that “casts both non-Muslims and regime opponents (including Muslims) as enemies of Islam and calls for armed jihad against them.”

The report said the IRGC exists as a way of life in the way it spreads edicts on the ideal structure of society, including promoting the subjugation of women.

The report’s author, Kasra Aarabi, said the IRCG’s use of the internet to radicalize people is something that tech companies in the West have yet to come to terms with. 

The IRGC is able to operate “unhindered” by safeguards normally employed to monitor and restrict propaganda by Salafist-jihadist groups, he added.

Recognizing this, and moving to prevent the IRGC’s dissemination of material, would be a key component of any strategy by the international community to combat its extremism, he said.

“These internal manuals reveal how the IRGC operates as an institutionalized militia, with a formal program of indoctrination that seeks to radicalize its members and proxies in the region with a violent distortion of Islam,” Aarabi added in the report. 

“As the new evidence in our report shows, the IRGC’s Shia extremist ideology has much in common with Salafi-jihadism and policymakers should therefore treat it with the same seriousness as Daesh (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda.”

Prof. Saeid Golkar, an expert on the IRGC at the University of Tennessee in the US, said: “Until now, there has been a void in any tangible evidence put to policymakers about the material and content distributed by the IRGC to its growing number of recruits.”

He added: “It is clear from the documents analyzed in this report that the IRGC has a comprehensive and harmful indoctrination system that seeks to radicalize its members with a violent Islamist ideology that will be hard to reverse without a concerted effort.” 

The IRGC was formed in 1979 in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, and has around 125,000 personnel, encompassing all areas of conventional military strength. 

Its proxies are known to be militarily engaged in a number of conflicts across the Middle East and further afield.

The IRGC is known to be providing assistance to groups in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.

 It is thought to have been behind attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and missiles launched against Saudi Aramco processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in 2019.

 The IRGC was catapulted into global news cycles at the start of 2020 when Gen. Qassem Suleimani, a senior figure and the commander of its elite Quds Force, was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad. 

The IRGC has since admitted responsibility for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet above Tehran in the immediate aftermath of the drone strike.


Jordanians celebrate country’s 74th Independence Day in confident mood

Updated 35 min 33 sec ago

Jordanians celebrate country’s 74th Independence Day in confident mood

  • The festivities followed a three-day lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the killer virus in the country

AMMAN: Jordanians on Monday took to the streets to celebrate their country’s 74th Independence Day amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

The festivities followed a three-day lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the killer virus in the country, which has so far recorded 708 cases and nine deaths.

Jordan’s population of almost 10 million people, the majority of them in their youth and belonging to different backgrounds and ethnicities which pride themselves on peaceful coexistence, woke up to national flags fluttering throughout the nation as well as on the Google search home page.

The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled a sense of nationalism and unity as well as confidence in the country’s leadership that has not been felt in years.

Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Mothanna Gharaibeh told Arab News that the virus outbreak had helped to boost Jordan’s digital resilience. “During the crisis, internet traffic grew by 70 percent overnight and yet our resilient internet network was able to take it without any reduction on YouTube or Netflix quality.”

Gharaibeh, the youngest minister in Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government, said that the private and public sectors had been working together during the COVID-19 emergency to overcome many challenges.

“From security to food delivery and online learning, thousands of Jordanians who were serving global customers continued to deliver quality services from their homes,” he added.

The minister, who was an activist during the short-lived Jordanian spring in 2011, pointed out that despite the economic difficulties caused by the lockdown there had been some positives to emerge from the situation.

“We grew by 700-plus jobs in the last two months by top companies like Cisco, Webhelp, BIGO/IMO, and others relying on the Jordanian solid infrastructure, skills, and work ethics,” he said.

Mahmoud Zawahreh, a young political activist from the city of Zarqa, told Arab News that Jordan was battling on two fronts. “The struggle is against different challenges in dealing with the coronavirus as well as the external political challenges.

“Jordan is being forced to escalate its response due to the dangers from the Israeli intentions to annex Palestinian territories while at the same time it has to deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Maamoun Abu Nawwar, a retired two-star air force general, said the people and leaders of Jordan had succeeded in finding a common ground as a nation. “There is a successful trilateral cooperation between the leadership, the army and the people.

“There is a close-knit atmosphere that has been recently articulated with many Jordanians returning from abroad because of the pandemic and realizing how great their country is and that it takes care of its people.”

He added that Jordan faced a difficult future and that some of its challenges were “existential” and required a holistic approach. “Jordan needs to be more inclusive to all regional neighbors to seek their help and protection from Israel.”

He believes that some of its neighbors have not risen to the challenges facing the country. “There is bitterness in Jordan regarding how much it can count on regional powers to stand with it. At times Jordan feels like it has to stand alone because it refuses to take sides in regional disputes,” Abu Nawwar said.

Tareq Khoury, the former head of the Wehdat Football Club and now a member of parliament representing Zarqa, told Arab News that independence required hard decisions including the cancellation of the Wadi Araba Treaty (Jordan-Israel peace accord).

“Independence requires fighting with the occupying enemy who is targeting our holy places and the Jordan Valley,” he said.

Khoury, a businessman who trades with regional countries, said that a much more robust economic relationship was needed.

Samar Nassar, the first female secretary-general of the Jordanian Football Association, said Jordan had been a sports pioneer in the region, championing women empowerment, and using sports for social change.

“We hosted the FIFA under-17 Women’s World Cup, which was the first international tournament of its scale in the Arab world and we hosted the 2018 women’s Asian Cup final.”