Upping ante, US to label Iranian military unit 'terrorist'
Published: Tuesday August 14, 2007

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The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," US officials tell Robin Wright for Wednesday editions of the Washington Post.

The move "allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances."

According to Wright, the Bush administration has opted to up the ante with Iran citing its "growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and "its support for extremists throughout the Middle East. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, officials said."

The decision to include the entire Revolutionary Guard -- rather than the Quds force, which has been suspected of funneling arms to Iraq -- is highly unusual.

"The Revolutionary Guard would be the first national military branch included on the list," US officials told the Post, "a highly unusual move because it is part of a government, rather than a typical non-state terrorist organization.

According to Wright, the decision will be made under Executive Order 13224, which Bush signed two weeks after the 9/11 attacks to obstruct terrorist funding, allowing the US to block the assets and disrupt the business of individuals, companies, charities and extremist groups connected with the Guard.

Last month, Vice President Dick Cheney proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to a McClatchy News Service report citing two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy.

The UK-based Guardian also reported in July that Cheney has been continuing to press for military action against Iran.

When Larry King asked Cheney in an interview July 31, "'Would you make an overt move on Iran?' Cheney said, "For what reason?" adding, "I'm not going to speculate about prospective operations."

Earlier this month, RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna revealed that the Bush Administration's National Intelligence Estimate regarding terrorist threats to the United States may have inflated the domestic threat posed by the Lebanese political and military group Hezbollah, perhaps because it receives financial support from Iran, according to current and former intelligence officials.

Speaking under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, several intelligence officers asserted that the report was sloppy and lacked supporting evidence.

"The NIE seems… fiddled [with]," regarding Hezbollah, one high-ranking CIA official said. "Whether it is or isn't is not really the point. The point is that nobody is ready to believe it."

"As regards to the Hezbollah 'threat,'" the official added, "they just threw that in. "Nobody in CIA talks to Hezbollah, and they're living off their assessments from back in the 80s, which they really never got right anyway."

The US already considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.