Washington | WTNS | Dec 09:The administration of outgoing United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday kept up its maximum pressure campaign of sanctions designed to squeeze Iran by blacklisting an Iranian official as well as a major Iranian university and another individual.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating Hasan Irlu, an official in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and the Iran`s envoy to the Houthi`s in Yemen, for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF. Iranian support to the Houthis, spearheaded by the IRGC-QF, continues to foment instability in Yemen, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Tuesday’s action also included Yusuf Ali Muraj, a Pakistani man living in Iran “who has been involved in the IRGC-QF’s efforts to coordinate, plan and execute operations in the Middle East and United States,” according to the Treasury.
OFAC is also taking action against Iran’s Al-Mustafa International University for facilitating IRGC-QF recruitment efforts and one individual, Yusuf Ali Muraj, who supported the operations. Al-Mustafa International University, which has branches around the world, is used as a recruitment platform by the IRGC-QF for intelligence collection and operations, including recruitment for the IRGC-QF-led foreign militias fighting on behalf of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria,according to the Treasury.
“The appointment of an IRGC-QF official as an envoy to the Houthi in Yemen demonstrates the Iranian regime’s indifference to resolving the conflict, which has led to the widespread suffering of millions of Yemenis,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “Additionally, the IRGC-QF’s recruitment of foreign students for intelligence operations illustrates the degree to which the group has infiltrated Iranian society in order to achieve its destructive goals. These efforts, and the pervasive role the IRGC-QF plays in Iranian foreign policy, contribute to the erosion of trust in Iran’s public and private institutions.”
Today’s actions are being taken pursuant to the counterterrorism authority Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended. The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in 2007 for support to numerous groups. The IRGC, including its external arm, the IRGC-QF, was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 8, 2019.
The Iranian regime recently sent Irlu to Sana’a as the Iranian regime’s envoy to the Houthi rebels. In so doing, Iran is the only nation to officially recognize, and appoint formal so-called representation to, the Houthis. For years, Irlu supported IRGC-QF efforts to provide advanced weapons and training to the Houthis. He coordinated with other senior IRGC-QF leaders to support the group’s operations throughout the Arabian Peninsula and Yemen. Irlu maintained a relationship with former IRGC-QF Commander Qasem Soleimani. He has also provided training to Hizballah members in Iran.
Irlu is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.
Today’s action follows the October 22, 2020 designation of Iraj Masjedi, currently a longtime senior IRGC-QF officer who also serves as Iran’s ambassador to Iraq and who for years oversaw the IRGC-QF’s Iraq policy.
AL-MUSTAFA (PBUH) INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY AND YOUSEF ALI MURAJ
Iran-based Al-Mustafa (PBUH) International University, which claims branches in over 50 countries, enables IRGC-QF intelligence operations by allowing its student body, which includes large numbers of foreign and American students, to serve as an international recruitment network.
The IRGC-QF uses Al-Mustafa University to develop student exchanges with foreign universities for the purposes of indoctrinating and recruiting foreign sources. Al-Mustafa has facilitated unwitting tourists from western countries to come to Iran, from whom IRGC-QF members sought to collect intelligence.
Recruits from Al-Mustafa International University have been sent to Syria to fight on behalf of IRGC-QF-led militias. The IRGC-QF established the Fatemiyoun Division, an Iranian-led militia composed of primarily ethnic Afghan residents in Iran, as well as the Zaynabiyoun Brigade, a militia group composed of Pakistani, as expeditionary forces to fight in Syria. The IRGC-QF has used Al-Mustafa as cover for its recruitment of Afghans. The IRGC-QF has used Al-Mustafa’s campus in Qom, Iran as a recruitment ground for Pakistani students to join the Zaynabiyoun Brigades. Multiple students from the university have been killed fighting in Syria. The Fatemiyoun Division and Zaynabiyoun Brigade are both designated under counterterrorism and human rights authorities.
Al-Mustafa International University is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.
OFAC is also designating Iran-based Pakistani national Yousef Ali Muraj, who has been involved in the IRGC-QF’s efforts to coordinate, plan and execute operations in the Middle East and United States. Yousef Ali Muraj is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted, or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.
All property and interests in property of these persons designated today subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. Any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by such persons are also blocked. In addition, foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions for, or persons that provide material or certain other support to, the persons designated today risk exposure to sanctions that could sever their access to the U.S. financial system or block their property and interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction.
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