The United States has sanctioned the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and four of its top commanders for their role in detaining American citizens.
On Thursday, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence organization because of its involvement in the wrongful detention of Americans.
“Today, I am proud to announce that my Administration will for the first time deploy a new tool to impose severe economic costs on governments and groups that hold hostage or wrongfully detain Americans around the world,” said U.S. President Joe Biden in an official statement.
The sanctions target four individuals and two security services from Russia and Iran. As a result, all designated parties’ property, and interests in property under the control of U.S. persons, are now blocked. Biden explained that these measures, which sever these actors from the American financial system, are based on an executive order he issued last summer, which expanded upon the 2020 Hostage Recovery and Hostage Taking Accountability Act.
The U.S. Treasury stated that Iranian authorities frequently detain and interrogate individuals, with Tehran playing a “direct role in the repression of protests and arrest of dissidents, including dual nationals.” The government has also announced further sanctions on four senior IRGC officials, accusing them of participating in hostage-taking efforts.
In the previous year, Biden issued a different executive order granting the president the authority to impose sanctions on individuals believed to be involved in the wrongful detention of Americans.
The IRGC Intelligence Organization has repeatedly interrogated American citizens detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison and has a long history of human rights violations and widespread use of torture.
American government officials have pointed out that IRGC Intelligence personnel were also responsible for providing equipment and various devices for espionage and assassinations, and played a key role in suppressing protests, arresting regime opponents and civil society activists.
According to an official statement issued by the U.S. Treasury Department , the sanctioned individuals are as follows:
Mohammad Kazemi: Commander of the IRGC Intelligence Organization since June 2022 and involved in crackdown measures against the Iranian people and arresting dual citizens. Kazemi also oversaw the brutal suppression of protests following the killing of Mahsa Amini.
Mohammad Mehdi Sayyari: Deputy Commander of the IRGC Intelligence Organization. He has been directly involved in imprisoning foreign citizens.
Rouhollah Bazghandi: One of the counter-espionage officers of the IRGC Intelligence Organization, he has played a significant role in detaining dual-nationals. Bazghandi has also overseen IRGC Intelligence Organization operations in Syria and plotted to assassinate Israeli citizens and journalists.
Mohammad Hassan Mohagheghi: IRGC Intelligence Organization Deputy Chief, reports to several senior commanders of the IRGC regarding this organization’s operations. He has also been the contact of senior IRGC commanders and IRGC Intelligence Organibazation in counter-espionage operations in Syria.
The Iranian regime has a long history of taking hostages and blackmailing the West. It has long used foreign hostages as bargaining chips in its negotiations with the West. During the negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the regime used foreign hostages to extract more than $1 billion in ransom from the U.S. Tehran also holds several foreign nationals as hostages today and is trying to extract concessions from the U.S. and Europe.