According to detailed reports from inside Iran, provided by the social network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has created a large directorate in its extraterritorial arm, the Quds Force, to expand its training of foreign mercenaries as part of its foreign strategy within the region.
This overhaul has the blessing of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who personally applauded its creation during a recent visit to the Quds Force, according to IRGC Brigadier General Khosrow Oroui, a senior advisor to the IRGC commander-in-chief and the directorate’s former commander.
The reports were gathered over several months by various sources of the PMOI’s network and indicate that this directorate has dozens of training camps across Iran. The camps have been divided based on the nationality of the trainees and the type of training they are receiving. Both terrorist training and military training for militias are being provided, enabling them to better infiltrate and advance the regime’s regional objectives.
Various news reports have discussed Iran’s influence within the region, focusing on their “exporting of terrorism” and contributing to the instability of hot spots within the region. The Trump Administration has circulated a proposal that would add the IRGC to its terrorist blacklist. This would designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization, which would impact its ability to do business in the international community.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has repeatedly pointed to the IRGC as a key source of terrorism within the region, referring to its troops in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. But these camps are actually training troops from these countries and then dispatching them back to wage the war of terrorism on these hot spots. Smaller groups are also being trained in other countries to conduct terrorist acts and operations.
Since 2012, the extent of training of foreign mercenaries in IRGC controlled camps of the Quds Force has increased. This is especially true for operations that do not have current open warfare, such as Bahrain and Kuwait, where terrorist cells are being trained instead.
Terrorist cells of the Quds Forces are being trained in separate and secret units, which are then dispatched to various countries throughout the international community, including Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Persian Gulf. The training is given to teams that don’t have contact with each other.
Additionally, the reports indicate that the IRGC has been calling back a number of its agents from Latin America, putting them in the hands of the Quds Force at the Imam Ali Garrison. Before they undergo any specific training, the forces have to undergo a body building boot camp, then they enter a period of specialized training, before undergoing a final exam and confirmation process. Once this completed, the final recruiting is performed.
Sections of the Training Directorate in Imam Ali Garrison
There are several different areas that the training focuses on, including:
- Specialized training for heavy weaponry
- Missile launch training
- Marine training
- Paratrooper training
- VIP Security training
The largest contingent of trainees in Imam Ali Garrison came from Syria, and some of these sessions may have involved up to 230 trainees. The Imam Ali Academy is where these individuals learn theoretical courses promoting fundamentalism and terrorism, before they are sent for practical military training.
One facet that is a key part of the training is urban warfare and guerilla training, both key to waging an effective campaign of terrorism. Survival training, dealing with hostages and practical missile training are being provided. All of these training operations are not focused on the protection of the Iranian state, but are focused on taking the Iranian regime’s brand of fundamentalism to the world through terrorist methods.
Iran has also recruited Afghans living within its borders to fight in Syria. These individuals are treated like second class citizens within the country and some have returned to Afghanistan, due to the abuse they have received in Iran. “One recruit for the war in Syria explained that the regime denies residency and identity documents to Afghans, making it nearly impossible to find jobs or go to school,” according to the Clarion Project.
As the world learns about these training operations, the key question is how will the international community respond? The NCRI has supported the economic sanctions as being key to bringing down the regime. In fact, sources throughout the international community have pointed to the 2015 nuclear deal as being possible because of the economic downturn the country experienced due to sanctions.
The new U.S. administration has put Iran on notice due to its ballistic missile tests earlier this year and appear willing to keep the sanctions in place and adding more. The hope is that this tough line will bring Iran into international compliance on not only the nuclear issue, but also on human rights, which were ignored during the 2015 nuclear talks.
Human rights violations have continued to mount in Iran. These include an increasing number of executions under President Rouhani, as well as an uptick in arrests and public punishments, such as flogging. Many of the detainees undergo torture and lack the basics, including clean food, water and medical care.
Iran has also continued to focus its people’s attention onto the West, blaming those nations for the economic trials of the country. Yet since sanctions have been relaxed, the funds have not gone back into the Iranian economy, but instead have been used to fund terrorism. “In fact, for average Iranians, the changes ensuing the signing of the nuclear deal leave a lot to desire. Testament to the fact is the increase of the country’s unemployment rate in 2016,” according to the Hill.com.
Foreign investors are being deterred from tapping into the Iranian market due to corruption, lack of transparency and poor transportation structure which are engulfing the country.
It is clear that terrorism is the Iranian export of choice and the international community should heed the reality that the Iranian regime has created.