A group of over 500 Iranian-Americans sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday urging him not to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) from the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
“Removing IRGC from the FTO list will be a blatant disregard to the hope and legitimate struggle of Iranians in their struggle for freedom and dignity,” the Iranian Professionals’ Ad Hoc Committee on Iran Policy said in their letter.
As part of its negotiations with Iran over the nuclear deal, the US is considering Tehran’s demand for the IRGC to be removed from Washington’s terror blacklist.
But public backlash and recent criticism from the Republican Party and Biden’s own political party have stalled the move.
Last week, the top US military general, Gen. Mark Milley, said he did not support removing the IRGC’s designation and voiced his belief that the Quds Force was a terror group.
Although Gen. Milley was asked about the IRGC, he said the Quds Force was a terrorist organization. It is unclear whether he made the distinction on purpose or whether the US is considering removing the IRGC and leaving the IRGC-Quds Force designated.
A State Department official said that Biden believes the Quds Force is a terrorist organization.
“There is no distinction between the IRGC or the Quds force. They operate as one unit to fund, promote and implement Khamenei’s agenda. The current designation is justified and should remain intact,” said Kazem Kazerounian, a professor and one of the main organizers of the letter.
The letter to Biden said the IRGC was Tehran’s instrument for terrorism abroad and repression of people on the streets of Iran.
“It is not accidental that the Iranian regime has placed the demand of removing IRGC from the terrorist list above any other issue. Such action by the US will unleash this horrible group again - on the Iranian people and on the other countries in the region,” said Dr. Shahin Toutounchi, a distinguished engineer from Lattice Semiconductor Corporation.
Toutounchi told Al Arabiya English that many of those who signed Tuesday’s letter and their families had first-hand experience of the atrocities by the IRGC.
“It is certainly noteworthy that IRGC has not shown the slightest indication of good faith efforts in halting malign behavior or advancing democratic institutions. To the contrary, the IRGC is playing a bigger role in creating proxy naval terror units, employing UAVs for terror operations, and funding terrorism around the globe,” the letter read.
“As Iranian-American scientists, academics, and professionals who are deeply concerned about the suffering of the Iranian people under the brutal IRGC forces, we respectfully ask that the IRGC remain on the FTO list,” the group of 502 Iranian-Americans said.