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U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Iran Regime’s IRGC Terrorist Network in Iraq

U.S. Treasury Department
U.S. Treasury Department

The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in a statement on Thursday, announced it has designated 20 front companies, senior officials, and business associates in Iran and Iraq that support or act for or on behalf of the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Qods Force. According to this statement, these companies and individuals have also been “transferring lethal aid to Iranian-backed terrorist militias in Iraq such as Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH).” 

“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. The terrorist militias supported by the Iranian regime such as KH and AAH have continued to engage in attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq,” read the statement.  

“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 Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations for humanitarian aid including agriculture commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to help the people of Iran combat the coronavirus.” 

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,” which ostensibly works to reconstruct the shrines of historical Shiite leaders in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The most important such shrines in Iraq are particularly exploited by the organization during the important religious ceremonies of “Ashura” and “Arbaeen.” The Reconstruction Headquarters is one of many cover organizations that are used to advance the IRGC Quds Force’s objective in Iraq and elsewhere,” read the NCRI’s report.  

Qassem Soleimani personally made the last appointments in the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters on July 12, 2019.Among them was the promotion of IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Polarak from the chair of the Reconstruction Headquarters to the special adviser of the Quds Force’s commanding office. After the promotion, Polarak was also tasked with supervising the activities of the Headquarters. In the same decree, Soleimani assigned Polarak as the authority for improving the Arbaeen ceremonies and circumventing the sanctionsSoleimani appointed Mohammad Jalal Maab as the executive chair of the Reconstruction Headquarters, replacing Hassan Polarak,” the NCRI added.  

The U.S. Department of Treasury has included this front organization on its newest series of designations: 

“The Reconstruction Organization of the Holy Shrines in Iraq (ROHSI) is an IRGC-QF-controlled organization based in Iran and Iraq whose leadership was appointed by the late IRGC-QF Commander Qassem Soleimani. Though ostensibly a religious institution, ROHSI has transferred millions of dollars to the Iraq-based Bahjat al Kawthar Company for Construction and Trading Ltd, also known as Kosar Company, another Iraq-based entity under the IRGC-QF’s control. Kosar Company has served as a base for Iranian intelligence activities in Iraq, including the shipment of weapons and ammunition to Iranian-backed terrorist militia groups,” read the Treasury Department’s statement.  

“OFAC is also designating Mohammad Jalal Maab, the current head of ROHSI, who was personally appointed to the position by former IRGC-QF Commander Soleimani. Jalal Maab succeeded Hassan Pelarak, an IRGC-QF officer and co-owner of Kosar Company, who was selected by Soleimani to serve as his special assistant on an IRGC-QF-led committee focused on sanctions evasions activity. Pelarak also worked with IRGC-QF officials to transfer missiles, explosives, and small arms to Yemen, intensifying the Yemeni conflict and exacerbating one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes,” the Treasury Department added.