The United States State Department in March sanctioned the related organizations and authorities of the Iranian regime’s Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force (IRGC – QF). This was a necessary yet long delayed action. While the coronavirus outbreak spreads across Iran and claims the lives of the people, due to the regime’s plundering of the national wealth, this action becomes more important.
The regime spends billions of dollars on terrorism; meanwhile the coronavirus, according to the reports published by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has so far claimed the lives of over 14,000 people.
On October 16, 2019, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in an exclusive report, revealed the role of the Iranian regime’s Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters and its role as a front organization of the Quds Force for implementing the Iranian regime’s terrorist plans in Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has institutionalized its presence in #Iraq through the “Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters#IRGCTerrorists #IRGCOutOfIraq pic.twitter.com/9y9hTKSPqK
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) October 16, 2019
Part of the U.S. State Department’s statement reads: “Among other malign activities, these entities and individuals perpetrated or supported: smuggling through the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr; money laundering through Iraqi front companies; selling Iranian oil to the Syrian regime; smuggling weapons to Iraq and Yemen; promoting propaganda efforts in Iraq on behalf of the IRGC-QF and its terrorist militias; intimidating Iraqi politicians; and using funds and public donations made to an ostensibly religious institution to supplement IRGC-QF budgets.” “Iran employs a web of front companies to fund terrorist groups across the region, siphoning resources away from the Iranian people and prioritizing terrorist proxies over the basic needs of its people,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
In this report, we intend to examine the role of this headquarters and its main manager, IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Pelarak, in spreading terrorism, plundering the Iranian people’s wealth and circumventing sanctions.
Who is Hassan Pelarak
Hassan Pelarak was born in 1961 in Nuq District of the Rajasanjan village in Kerman Province. Hassan Pelarak has been a member of the IRGC since its foundation. He participated in the massacre of Iranian Kurds in the 1980s, and during the Iran-Iraq war served as the commander of logistics and support of the southeastern front. Following the end of war from 1994 to 1998, Pelarak was appointed as the commander of logistics. (At the time Qassem Soleimani, the now-dead head of the Quds Forces was the commander of southeast Iran.)
Pelarak has numerous private companies and is very active in plundering the people of Iran. He also served as an economic consultant to Eshaq Jahangiri, the regime’s vice president, from January 2016 to November 2016.
Qassem Soleimani promoted IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Pelarak from the chair of the Reconstruction Headquarters to the post of special adviser of the Quds Force’s commanding office. After the promotion, Pelarak was also tasked with supervising the activities of the Headquarters. In the same decree, Soleimani assigned Pelarak as the authority for improving the Arbaeen ceremonies and circumventing the sanctions.
Following the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mehdi-al Muhandis, the commander of the Iraqi Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), on January 3 in a U.S. drone attack, Pelarak in an interview with the IRGC’s Fars News Agency on February 9 said that from the early 1980s until 2020, for four decades, he had been one of the closest IRGC commanders to Soleimani and participated in different operations with him. Pelarak said he had close relations with al-Muhandis and during the interview showed his pictures with the both eliminated terrorists.
How this headquarters was formed
In an interview on January 25, 2016, Hassan Pelarak explained the process of forming this organization and entering Iraq, which was simultaneous with the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Pelarak said, “The Americans attacked Iraq to eliminate Saddam, of course; the Islamic Republic’s goal was also eliminating Saddam. So we used the opportunity and with the potential we had we entered Iraq and we started the reconstruction of the holy shrines. A few months after the fall of Saddam, the popular Iraqi forces, Badr Brigade, the Supreme Islamic Council, Seyed-ol-Shohada forces and Hezb-ol- Dawa, which had their bases in Iran, took control of the scene.”
In addition to Qassem Soleimani, the office of the regime’s Supreme Leader has great influence in the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters. The supreme leader’s representatives in the Quds Forces and the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters, the deputy of the international affairs of the supreme leader’s office, head of the office of policymaking of the Friday Prayer Leaders and head of the regime’s Endowment and Charity Organization are within the organization of the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters. They are all being directly or indirectly appointed by the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
The role of the Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters in the regime’s terrorism and meddling in Iraq and Syria
One of the regime’s front organizations, through which it has secretly occupied Iraq, is the “Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters” which is in fact an organization of the terrorist Quds Force. This headquarters has prepared the ground for the Quds Force to carry on different terrorist activities and arms trafficking, plundering and even circumventing sanctions under the pretext of reconstructing the shrines of Shiite figures and Imams.
Along with acting as a front organization for the Quds Force in Iraq, the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters also began operations in Syria in 2014 and now has a separate office in Syria which is active under the pretext of reconstruction of holy shrines. The Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters has created a good cover for the Quds Force’s presence in Syria in the post-war period. Pelarak appointed Alireza Akbari as head of this office in Syria in 2018.
The Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters is just an example of the IRGC’s holdings. The regime has refused to provide the Iranian people with the necessary equipment to combat the coronavirus, yet it dedicates billions of dollars of the national wealth to its warmongering campaign, in order to prolong its life.