CHICAGO: More than 500 Iranian-American scientists, academics and professionals on Tuesday urged President Joe Biden in a letter to keep the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the US Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
Under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which is reviewed every two years, the US Justice Department can prosecute any individual or organization that provides any form of “material support,” most importantly financial assistance, to any organization on the FTO list.
The IRGC was placed on the list, which consists of 73 organizations, on April 15, 2019. Since its creation, 15 groups have been delisted.
Removing the IRGC from the list is one of Tehran’s principle demands in negotiations in Vienna over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. The US withdrew from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, under then-President Donald Trump.
“The IRGC is the tool of terrorism abroad and repression of people on the streets of Iran. This instrument of terror safeguards the religious dictatorship in Iran, and continues to impede all progress toward human rights,” the signatories argued in the letter, obtained by Arab News.
“The FTO designation has effectively handicapped many of the IRGC-related foreign financial transactions, and therefore its ability to export terrorism and impose repression,” they said.
“The IRGC is playing a bigger role in creating proxy naval terror units, employing UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for terror operations, and funding terrorism around the globe,” they added.
“For over a century, the people of Iran have struggled for freedom from the tyranny of the Shah (and his predecessors) and the mullahs currently ruling in Iran. As you yourself have repeatedly declared, we ask that you stand with the people of Iran in their demands for peace, freedom and a non-nuclear, secular Republic of Iran. More than ever, global efforts in protecting civilians and defending a free world are paramount.”
One of the main organizers of the letter, Professor Kazem Kazerounian, said: “While we welcome President Biden’s opposition to remove the IRGC from the FTO list, we remain vigilant and concerned about any concession toward Tehran’s terrorist regime.”
He added: “There is no distinction between the IRGC or the Quds Force. They operate as one unit to fund, promote and implement (Iranian Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei’s agenda. The current designation is justified and should remain intact.”
Information technology leader and inventor Sima Yazdani said: “The letter reflects the views of many Iranian Americans who are in contact with their family members in Iran, many of whom are victims of the IRGC’s brutal repression at home.”
Dr. Shahin Toutounchi, an engineer at Lattice Semiconductor Corp., said: “The Vienna talks only legitimize a brutal and terrorist regime in Tehran. No concessions should be offered to the mullahs, the IRGC, or their murderous president Ebrahim Raisi.”
He added: “If anything, America must verifiably hold the mullahs’ regime accountable for its human rights abuses at home, terrorism abroad, and destructive support for terrorist proxies in the region.”
Raisi, accused of directing the mass murder of thousands of Iranian civilians, was elected president in August 2021.