A group representing Iranian dissidents on Tuesday called on the Trump administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, based on new information that appears to show an expansion of its terrorist training activities.
Last week, multiple news outlets reported that the Trump administration was considering an executive order that would designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
At a press conference in Washington, the National Council of Resistance of Iran said it believes that the IRGC's stepped up efforts to train terrorists means the group deserves the designation.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington Office of the NCRI, presented information to reporters gathered by the social network of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, a dissident group located inside Iran. He said that information shows that since 2012, the NCRI has seen an increase in the training of foreign nationals in its terrorist training camps, which threatens a wide scope of countries, not just those beset by conventional warfare.
"For operations in countries where there is no open warfare, including Persian Gulf countries such as Bahrain and Kuwait, terrorists' cells are trained instead," he said.
That information also identified 14 of what are dozens of IRGC training centers, and said eight of them are terrorist training operations in and around Tehran. It "exposed" the main training camp for terrorists, Imam Ali Garrison, and included satellite images of each of the training centers for foreign nationals.
Jafarzadeh said the IRGC is "contributing to the rise of" the Islamic State, among other things, which is putting U.S. forces and their allies in danger.
The ramped-up training operations are spearheaded by IRGC's special operations unit, the Quds forces, which has already been labeled a terrorist group. But the NCRI contended that IRGC and Quds should not be dealt with separately, as the Iranian constitution and the budget do not deal with the Quds as a separate entity.
"The IRGC is actually the entity that runs the whole show when it comes to terrorism," even though they are spearheaded by the Quds force, Jafarzadeh said. "You cannot do the separation. You cannot have the Quds force designated as a terrorist entity, but not the IRGC."
Jafarzadeh said there is bipartisan support in Congress for the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group, and suggested that with the new Trump administration, there is "a better possibility for those measures to move forward."
There are groups pushing against a terrorist designation. Following the reports that the Trump administration was weighing its options on the matter, the National Iranian American Council advised against it, citing concern about the future of the Iranian nuclear deal.
"This is an extremely provocative move by an administration that increasingly looks eager to start a war with Iran," the group said in a statement. "At minimum, it would put the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (ACPOA) — the Iran nuclear deal — in extreme jeopardy."
The Iranian dissident group calls NIAC a "discredited Tehran lobby."