Fri, 22 Sep 2023

washington - The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on members and affiliates of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its external operations arm, the IRGC-Quds Force, whom Washington has accused of participating in terrorist plots targeting former U.S. government officials and Iranian dissidents, including journalists.

The U.S. Treasury Department said the action targeted three Iran- and Turkey-based individuals, a company affiliated with the IRGC-QF, and two senior officials of the IRGC's Intelligence Organization who have been involved in plotting external lethal operations against civilians, including journalists and activists.

"The United States remains focused on disrupting plots by the IRGC and its [Quds] Force, both of which have engaged in numerous assassination attempts and other acts of violence and intimidation against those they deem enemies of the Iranian regime," Brian E. Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

"We will continue to expose and disrupt these terrorist activities and efforts to silence opposing voices, particularly those who advocate for respect for the universal human rights and freedoms of the Iranian people," Nelson said.

This is the latest slate of U.S. sanctions against Iranian operatives accused of targeting U.S. officials and Iranian dissidents. In 2021, the Treasury Department sanctioned Iranian operatives for attempting to kidnap Iranian critic and VOA Persian host Masih Alinejad.

Among those newly sanctioned was Mohammad Reza Ansari, a Quds Force member who the Treasury said has supported the IRGC-QF's operations in Syria, and Iranian national Shahram Poursafi, who the Treasury said had planned and attempted to assassinate two former U.S. government officials.

The Treasury also penalized Hossein Hafez Amini, a dual Iranian-Turkish national based in Turkey. The Treasury accused Amini of using his Turkey-based airline, Rey Havacilik Ithalat Ihracat Sanayi Ve, to assist the Quds Force's covert operations, including kidnapping and assassination plots targeting Iranian dissidents in Turkey. The airline also was sanctioned.

The Treasury also sanctioned two individuals affiliated with the IRGC's Intelligence Organization, including Rouhallah Bazghandi, former IRGC-IO counterespionage department chief, who the department said has been involved in planning and overseeing IRGC-IO operations in Iraq and Syria. Additionally, Bazghandi is accused of being involved in plots to assassinate journalists and Israeli nationals in Istanbul.

Reza Seraj, foreign intelligence chief of the Intelligence Organization, was also sanctioned.

All property of the five individuals and the company subject to U.S. jurisdiction is blocked as a result of these new sanctions.

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