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Canada lists Iran's IRGC as a terrorist organization

The Canadian government on Wednesday designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. File Photo by Abedin Taherenareh/EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
The Canadian government on Wednesday designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. File Photo by Abedin Taherenareh/EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

June 20 (UPI) -- Canada has listed Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Arms Corps as a terrorist entity under its Criminal Code following years of mounting pressure from Iranian Canadians and opposition lawmakers.

"The IRGC is now listed as a terrorist group in Canada," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said on X.

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Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference, stating the move sends a "strong message" that Canada will use all the tools it has to combat the IRGC and its destabilizing activities.

"The Iranian regime has consistently displayed a complete disregard for human rights, both inside and outside Iran, as well as a willingness to destabilize the international rules-based order," he said.

"Our government will ensure that there is no immunity for Iran's unlawful actions and its support of terrorism."

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Founded following Iran's 1979 revolution, the IRGC is a paramilitary organization that is separate from Iran's military. The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center says it is tasked with defending Iran's Islamic regime with its Quds Force being responsible for "covert lethal activities outside Iran."

The IRGC also backs Tehran proxy militias committing destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Canada's Iranian diaspora community has a population of more than 200,000, according to government data, and the movement to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization has grown since January 2020 when Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down shortly after take off near Tehran.

The flight was hit amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran, which had hours earlier launched a retaliatory attack at U.S. bases in Iraq over the American assassination of the then head of the IRGC, Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

All 176 on board were killed. Fifty-five were Canadians with another 30 being permanent residents.

The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, which has been calling on Canada to designated the IRGC, said Wednesday that it thanks Ottawa and all those who brought about the listing.

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"Listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization has always been one of the main demands of the Association over the past years," it said in a statement.

Officials said the designation makes inadmissible thousands of Iranian government officials while barring Canadians from conducting businesses with the IRGC.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly warned Canadians during the press conference that the Tehran regime may retaliate following the designation, and is urging them not to travel to Iran.

"We've been saying for years now to Canadians: Don't go to Iran. With this decision today, there is a heightened risk of arbitrary detention in Iran. So, my message is clear for those who are in Iran right now, it's time to come back home. And for those planning to go to Iran, don't go," she said.

The announcement comes after the Canada House of Commons in May unanimously voted to adopt a report to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and to expel the 700 Iranian agents reportedly operating and living in the country.

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Lawmakers with the opposition Conservative Party criticized the government for taking so long to designate the IRGC, stating they have been urging Trudeau's ruling Liberal Party to do so since 2018.

"The IRGC has been able to grow stronger as a result of Trudeau's inaction," Conservative shadow foreign affairs minister Michael Chong and deputy Conservative party leader Melissa Lantsman said in a joint statement.

The Liberal officials rebutted that they followed the bureaucratic process to make such a determination, which takes time.

"The decision to list an organization under Canada's Criminal Code as a terrorist entity isn't made because of comments on Twitter or question period," LeBlanc said, adding that it is done based on the advice of Ottawa's security services while taking foreign policy concerns into consideration.

"It's a deliberative process."

Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, who has been a target of IRGC kidnapping plots, praised Canada for taking the right step, but called on Ottawa to implement the decision and to urge all G7 leaders to do the same as well as either arrest or expel the hundreds of IRGC members in the country.

"This is the demand of millions of Iranians," she said in a statement.

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The United States designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019.

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