As published in the Times
Iranian-sponsored terrorism has long been a menace. There are growing signs it has reached Europe and the UK. It must be dealt with swiftly. On November 9, the former vice-president of the European parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, was shot in Madrid. In hospital, he claimed Iran had ordered his assassination, noting he has “no other enemy”. He had been included on the Iranian regime’s list of official enemies last year.
The Iranians are not afraid to bring terror to Britain either. In February, the Metropolitan Police’s counterterror chief revealed police and security services had foiled 15 abduction and murder plots by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). MI5 has said that on ten occasions in 2022, the IRGC tried to assassinate British residents.
Washington has designated the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. The UK has not.
Faced with our failure to act, the potential victims of IRGC terror are taking matters into their own hands. A London-based Iranian opposition broadcaster has moved to the US.
The IRGC is the driving force behind Iranian terror and is responsible for the proliferation of the regime’s militant proxies across the Middle East. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has said the mullahs are at war with the international community over their nuclear activities and supply of drones to Russia for use against Ukraine, and via their proxy groups in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza.
The threat they pose to global security has been underlined by Hamas’s attack on Israel, which was made possible by the IRGC’s massive logistical, financial and military support. Ever since that attack, Tehran has repeatedly boasted of the potential for a much broader war.
It is time to stand up to Iran’s hostile and aggressive acts. The head of the snake is in Tehran, and its fangs are the IRGC. The new UK sanction regime that came into force last week is a positive step. It applies sanctions to people key to Iran’s terror, including the head of one branch of the IRGC, the Quds Force, and those responsible for Iran’s involvement in the October 7 attack.
However, more must be done. In September, I wrote to Rishi Sunak asking him to proscribe the IRGC and last month 70 cross-party MPs, including myself, again wrote to him urging action. All the responses have fallen short.
Proscription would be a practical step towards curbing Tehran’s terror apparatus and would build on the latest sanctions. If the tragedy in the Middle East does not serve as a wake-up call, what will?