Mullahs's Terrorism

Iran Focus - Mere days after Donald Trump decertify Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, citing their destabilising influence in the Middle East as one of many reasons, Iran attacked US allies who were fighting ISIS in Iraq.

The Kurdish Peshmerga, who have been retaking land in northern Iraq from ISIS since 2015 when the Iraqi force retreated, were suddenly attacked by Iran-backed Iraqi forces in oil-rich Kirkuk.

The land remains disputed because the Kurdish people recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence and the Iraqi government does not want to allow this.

Iran is also against Kurdish independence, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling it a “Zionist plot”, but there is more to the story. An independent Kurdistan would lead to a stronger US presence in the region, possibly with permanent military bases in the area that Iran uses to transport supplies to militants propping us the Bashar Assad dictatorship in Syria and terrorist proxies across the Middle East.

The Iranian Regime already controls the Iraqi government heavily, despite recent developments that looked like there was a shift in power, and their willful destruction of the Kurds will only enamour them to the Iraqi government further.

The Kurdish defeat in northern Iraq is also a defeat for the US, as Iran further strengthened its foothold in Iraq. The Iranian Regime knows that it is no match for the US, which is why it picks on weaker US allies. In response, the US must establish lines which the Regime cannot cross without fear of US intervention, they must work towards containing Iran and stopping its malign influence, and they must see this as only the start of something much bigger being planned by the Iranian Regime.

This is why the US needs to intervene, not only to save their allies but also to target a Regime which is trying to take over the Middle East.

Ranj Alaaldin, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution Doha, wrote on Foreign Policy: “Trump now has an opportunity to prove that… he is serious about confronting what he described as Iranian attempts to sow “conflict, terror and turmoil” across the Middle East… As the dust settles from the war against the Islamic State, the United States can no longer sit on the fence. The Shiite militias have many Iraqi rivals — not just the Kurdish Peshmerga, but also Arab Sunnis and moderate Shiite factions, tribes, and clerics who do not wish to see Iraq fall further into Iran’s orbit of influence — who deserve America’s support, not least because they support an Iraqi political order that is ultimately in America’s own interests.”

U.S. Department of Treasury, October 13, 2017 - Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.  OFAC designated the IRGC today for its activities in support of the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on October 25, 2007, for providing support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban.  The IRGC has provided material support to the IRGC-QF, including by providing training, personnel, and military equipment.

Additionally, today OFAC designated four entities under E.O. 13382, which targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters, for their support to the IRGC or Iran’s military.
 
“The IRGC has played a central role to Iran becoming the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror.  Iran’s pursuit of power comes at the cost of regional stability, and Treasury will continue using its authorities to disrupt the IRGC’s destructive activities,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “We are designating the IRGC for providing support to the IRGC-QF, the key Iranian entity enabling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s relentless campaign of brutal violence against his own people, as well as the lethal activities of Hizballah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups. We urge the private sector to recognize that the IRGC permeates much of the Iranian economy, and those who transact with IRGC-controlled companies do so at great risk.”
 
Read more: https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0177.aspx

Iran Focus - The White House is preparing a series of tough measures targeting Iran and its affiliates. In the coming days the new action is expected to be announced that will focus on two entities: Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.

Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, and someone familiar with the unfolding policy on Iran, but not authorized to speak about private conversations, described the measures, which have not been officially announced. They said that financial sanctions on those doing business with the Revolutionary Guard are expected to be announced, as well as rewards for information leading to the arrest of two operatives of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Trump has called the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers one of America's "worst and most one-sided transactions" ever. However, on Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump is looking beyond the deal for ways to pressure Tehran. "The president isn't looking at one piece of this," Sanders said. "He's looking at all of the bad behavior of Iran — not just the nuclear deal as bad behavior, but the ballistic missile testing, destabilizing of the region, number one state sponsor of terrorism, cyber-attacks, illicit nuclear program.”

H.R. McMaster, the president's national security adviser, has been the key driver in developing the integrated strategy with the Defense, State and Treasury departments, and intelligence agencies, according to the person familiar with Iran policy.

Next week, during a policy speech on Iran, he is expected to decertify Iran's compliance in the landmark 2015 agreement. Still, this will stop short of pulling out of the deal. Lawmakers say Trump will refer the matter to Congress.

Next week, the State Department is expected to announce a total of $12 million in rewards for information leading to the location, arrest or conviction of two leaders of Hezbollah. $7 million of this money is for information about Talal Hamiyah, who is suspected of carrying out hijackings, attacks, and kidnappings of U.S. citizens. The other $5 million is for information about Fuad Shukr, a member of Hezbollah who runs the group's military forces in southern Lebanon, where the group is based.

Legislation signed in August gave Trump an October 31st deadline to either impose sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or issue a waiver. It is believe that he will not sign the waiver, meaning the sanctions will automatically kick in.

Iran News Update - According to a source in the Ministry of Intelligence who spoke to a news website, Amadnews, on the condition of anonymity, Zahra Larijani, known as Mrs. Vahid, who is the daughter of Sdegh Amoli Larijani, head of judicial system in Iran, is accused of spying for the west. The source confirms that there is evidence this.

On Wednesday, September 1st, Amadnews revealed a meeting organized by the heads of intelligence department of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, where the department heads were planning ways to arrest Ahmadi Nejad and Hussain Fraidoon.

Amadnews reports that in order to bring “balance and justice” to the society, the organization also plans to arrest Fazel Larijani, one of Zahra Larijani’s bothers.

Following the release of the report, Sdegh Amoli Larijani called a meeting with Ismail Khatib, head of the a department of the judicial system, and his deputies Pur Zari and Nawrozi. He said, “It is not possible that the information is leaked to Amadnews without any help from inside. The information must be leaked by Khusrawi and Milani, members of the protection of secret information of judiciary system, or the information is given to Amadnews by the MI6 the intelligence service of Britain.”

A source from the Protection of Secret Information in the judiciary system said that Anti-spyware Deputy of the Intelligence Ministry has information that Zahra Ardshair Larijani sent a copy of secret information belonging to the Iran government to the British Council in Iran and their Italian colleagues in Tehran. It has also has been said that she had meetings with the heads of these institutes in Iran.

The source told Amadnews that Ministry of Intelligence is consulting with Muhseni Ezhai, deputy of the judicial system, to begin an investigation of Zahara Larijani on the charges of spying for the west. However, Muhseni Ezhai said the religious leaders of Iran should decide on the issue, which sparked criticism from the members of coordinating council of intelligence services.

Khusrawi and Milani are in prison on charges of spying. They have allegedly been tortured in prison, and forced to say that they leaked information, according to Amadnews.

On October 3rd, Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, denied the unsourced item from Amadnews that links the head of the judiciary’s daughter to espionage. “None of the members of Larijani family is suspected of espionage”, he said.

Human Rights Watch, (Beirut) – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has recruited Afghan immigrant children living in Iran to fight in Syria, Human Rights Watch reported. Afghan children as young as 14 have fought in the Fatemiyoun division, an exclusively Afghan armed group supported by Iran that fights alongside government forces in the Syrian conflict. Under international law, recruiting children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities is a war crime.

Human Rights Watch researchers reviewed photographs of tombstones in Iranian cemeteries where the authorities buried combatants killed in Syria, and identified eight Afghan children who apparently fought and died in Syria. Iranian media reports also corroborated some of these cases and reported at least six more instances of Afghan child soldiers who died in Syria. For two of the reported cases, researchers reviewed photographs of tombstones that indicated the individual was over the age of 18, but family members of these deceased fighters told Iranian media that they were children who had misrepresented their age in order to join the Fatemiyoun division. This indicates that instances of Iran recruiting children to fight in Syria are likely more prevalent.

“Iran should immediately end the recruitment of child soldiers and bring back any Afghan children it has sent to fight in Syria,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than preying on vulnerable immigrant and refugee children, the Iranian authorities should protect all children and hold those responsible for recruiting Afghan children to account.”

In 2015, the Interior Ministry estimated that there were 2.5 million Afghans in Iran, many of them without residency papers. Human Rights Watch previously documented cases of Afghan refugees in Iran who “volunteered” to fight in Syria in the hopes of gaining legal status for their families.

Since 2013, Iran has supported and trained thousands of Afghans, at least some of them undocumented immigrants, as part of the Fatemiyoun division, a group that an Iranian newspaper close to the government describes as volunteer Afghan forces, to fight in Syria. In May 2015, Defa Press, a news agency close to Iran’s armed forces, reported that the Fatemiyoun had been elevated from a brigade to a division. There are no official public statistics on its size, but according to an interview published in the Revolutionary Guards-affiliated Tasnim News, it has about 14,000 fighters.

By reviewing photographs of their tombstones, Human Rights Watch documented eight Afghan children who fought and died in Syria. Five of them, one as young as 14, are buried in the Martyr’s Section of Tehran’s Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. Writing on the epitaphs of the tombstones indicates that they were all probably killed in combat in Syria and that all of them were below the age of 18 at the time of their deaths. Human Rights Watch was able to document three more cases, of a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old, and another 17-year-old, who were buried in Alborz, Tehran, and Isfahan provinces, respectively.

In four of these cases, the tombstones also identified the children’s places of death in Syria, and in seven of the eight cases, the tombstones described the Afghan child as a “defender of the shrine,” the euphemism the Iranian government uses to describe fighters it sends to Syria. Domestic media reported their funerals and memorial services, along with their membership in the Fatemiyoun division and their place of “martyrdom” in Syria.

Domestic media reports also indicate that at least six more “defenders of the shrine” from the Fatemiyoun division are buried across the country and were under the age of 18 when they died. In two of these cases – Hassan Rahimi and Mohammad Zaman Atayi – information engraved on their tombstones indicated that the two were over 18 when they died, but media interviews with their families reveal that they were actually both children, or under 18, when they died fighting in Syria.

For instance, Isa Rahimi, the father of deceased Afghan child soldier Hassan Rahimi, told Iran’s Quran News Agency in November 2016, “On his tomb, his birthday is printed as 1995, but his real birthday is 1999. He had lied about his age so they would allow him to join the forces easier. They hadn’t asked him for a birth certificate, and that’s how he got away with it.”

Afghan fighters have also said they have seen children in training camps for Afghan forces. “Ali,” a 29-year-old Afghan, told Human Rights Watch in August that he talked to 16 and 17-year-old child soldiers who were being trained to fight in Syria. Ali said he joined the Fatemiyoun division after a recruiter approached him while he was trying to renew his residency permit at the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) office in a city outside Tehran. He said the recruiter told him he could get his permit if he joined up.

“They never asked me to show any documentation, but they wanted to make sure we were Afghan nationals,” Ali told Human Rights Watch. “We had to be above the age 18 to be recruited, but they only asked for our age, not any documentation.”

There is little transparency in Iran’s recruitment of soldiers to fight in Syria, including whether it has implemented measures to prevent child recruitment. On January 27, 2016, Mohsen Kazemeini, commander of the Tehran-based Mohammad Rasoul Allah division of the IRGC, said in a media interview that Basij paramilitary branches affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards are in charge of recruiting forces to fight in Syria. While Iran officially claims that all Afghans living in Iran who join the Fatemiyoun division are volunteers, the vulnerable legal position of many Afghan children living in Iranand their fear of being deported to Afghanistan may contribute to their decision to join up.

Authorities have attempted to extend rights to Afghan children living in Iran. In 2015, Iran reportedly allowed all Afghan children, including undocumented ones, to register for schools after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a ruling emphasizing that “no Afghan child, even the undocumented ones, should be left out of school.” Yet, this research demonstrates authorities have done too little to protect Afghan children from being recruited to fight in Syria, particularly in light of the fact that the government has proposed offering incentives such as a path to citizenship for families of foreign fighters who die, become injured, or are taken captive during “military missions.” These incentives without sufficient protections could increase the risk of child recruitment; as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Executive Committee has emphasized, “refugee children and adolescents… are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by government armed forces…” and has called upon governments to implement policies to prevent this human rights violation.

Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities” is a war crime. Iran is not a party to the Rome Statute, but is bound by customary international law which also provides that recruitment of children under age 15 is a war crime.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict that entered into force on February 12, 2002, provides that 18 is the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities. Iran has signed the Optional Protocol, but the parliament has yet to vote on its ratification. Human Rights Watch has previously documented the use of child soldiers in the Syrian conflict by the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) – the Kurdish Democratic Union Party affiliate.

The UN should investigate child recruitment by the IRGC, and the secretary-general should consider adding the organization to his annual list of perpetrators of violations against children based on evidence of child recruitment, Human Rights Watch said.

“Iran should be improving protections for Afghan refugee children, not leaving them vulnerable to unscrupulous recruiting agents,” Whitson said. “Iran should immediately ratify the Optional Protocol and ensure that Afghan children are not being recruited to fight in Syria.”