U.S. representatives call on Canada to designate Iran's IRGC as terrorist group

U.S. representatives call on Canada to designate Iran's IRGC as terrorist group

U.S. representatives call on Canada to designate Iran's IRGC as terrorist group

In a letter, 14 members of Congress said the Islamic Republic Guard Corps facilitated Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack in Israel and needs to be stopped

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OTTAWA – A group of U.S. representatives is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to officially designate Iran’s Islamic Republic Guard Corps as a terrorist group, something Canadian parliamentarians have demanded of the Liberals for years.

The 14 members of Congress, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, sent the letter to Trudeau Wednesday pleading with him to list the Islamic Republic Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.

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“By officially designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, Canada can join the United States in once again contributing to the global fight against terrorism, demonstrating a strong commitment to ensuring peace and stability,” they said in the letter. “In both words and deeds, the IRGC as an entity is ideologically committed to destroying Israel and undermining U.S.-Canadian security interests in the Middle East and around the world.”

Both the House of Commons and the Senate have passed resolutions in recent years calling for the group to receive a terrorist designation, but the government has so far ignored those calls. The U.S., Sweden, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have listed the group as a terrorist entity.

The IRGC is an arm of the Iranian military and is a major supporter of terrorist groups including Hamas, which launched the Oct. 7 attack killing more than 1,200 people in southern Israel and kidnapping 240 more.

In their letter, the members of Congress said the IRGC facilitated those attacks and needs to be stopped.

“The October 7, 2023, terrorist massacre by Hamas killed Israeli, American, and Canadian citizens, and it was made possible by Iran and the IRGC, which have supported Canadian-designated Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas with arms, training, and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for years.”

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Canada has designated a branch of the IRGC, the Quds Force, as a terrorist entity and the representatives argued Trudeau should take the next step and list the entire group.

Canada has declared dozens of groups as terrorist entities since 2003 when it brought in legislation setting up the list. Once on the list, it becomes illegal for anyone in Canada to do business with the group or to join or participate in its actions.

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Thomas Juneau, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said adding the IRGC would be a symbolic gesture that would achieve little in the way of consequences.

“Canada is well known for not being able to actually implement the sanctions that it announces. Our allies know this and it annoys them, and the bad guys know this and it makes them smile,” he said.

Iran has conscription for military service, meaning many members of the IRGC are not part of the organization voluntary. Juneau said it also means trying to screen every one ever connected to the organization, which would be an enormous bureaucratic task.

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“You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of IRGC vets. You are talking about a lot of conscripts among those IRGC vets, some of whom would have been cooks in 1996 or something like that,” he said.

Juneau said training people to implement sanctions is a difficult process and, even if Canada could significantly expand its abilities, resources would be better spent dealing with specific targets and countries like Russia and China.

He said putting the entire IRGC on the terrorism list would also not prevent them from carrying out attacks in the Middle East. He said it could prevent them from trying to influence events in Canada or hinder members of the IRGC who hide money or assets in Canada, but he said narrowly focused sanctions would be better way to approach that issue.

Leah West, an assistant professor at Carleton University where she focuses on national security law, said there is a legal problem as well with adding the IRGC, because the legislation setting up the system excludes military units.

She said the law was written specifically to exclude the actions of military units.

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“When drafting our terrorism laws we made a choice that we would not deal with the conduct of militaries or parties to a conflict under the criminal law but would instead look to international law to sanction or punish unlawful conduct,” she said in an email.

The National Post reached out to the Liberal government for a response to the letter, but had not heard back before press time.

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