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Iran’s Red Crescent: Decades-old cover for IRGC operations abroad

IRGC veteran Saeed Ghassemi
IRGC veteran Saeed Ghassemi

Analysis by PMOI/MEK


April 21, 2019 - The remarks of a Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) veteran that the IRGC entered the Balkan regions during the Yugoslavia wars under the cover of Red Crescent medics to train and organize Al-Qaida terrorists have ensued a new controversy around the newly blacklisted armed forces of the Iranian regime.

While the mullahs’ misuse of the Red Crescent for terrorist activities is partially documented by WikiLeaks, the Iranian opposition has always claimed and documented the Iranian regime’s exploitations of NGO’s and humanitarian organizations for its evil purposes.

Yet a clear acknowledgment by Saeed Ghasemi is rare if not unprecedented.

Iranian officials, aware of the repercussion of such blatant violation of international treaties and standards, especially considering the recent FTO designation of the IRGC, swiftly denied Ghasemi’s statements.

Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff of regime President Hassan Rouhani, described Ghassemi’s statements as undocumented. “Why would he want to embolden the enemies who’ve targeted the IRGC?” he asked.

The IRGC itself also denied Ghasemi’s remarks, while implicitly adding to its credibility.

“The remarks of Saeed Ghasemi, who had been for a while a volunteer in Bosnia and retired many years ago, are personal opinions and without credibility. The IRGC does not confirm,” said IRGC public relations chief Ramezan Sharif.

Hossein Allahkaram, the infamous head of the coordination council of the notorious Ansar-e Hezbollah, a semi-official paramilitary organization that performs vigilante duties, says: “Al-Qaida has different ranks, and the rank that was in Bosnia were connected to us in some ways. Occasionally, some of them, after they were trained in Al-Qaida bases and received their weapons, for some reasons, they would leave that place and come to us. Connections with Al-Qaida was mainly with these ranks.”

Hadi Ghaffari was an iconic figure of the crackdowns during the regime’s early days. He later became a “moderate” and has recently criticized Ghasemi. “Even if you did this, it is very wrong to say that out loud. In any event, saying that is wrong and is like the bear’s service. People like Mr. Qasemi are like the bears that will bring down Iran,” he said.

Defending his statements about the IRGC and the Red Crescent, Ghasemi tweeted: “We’ve witnessed with our own eyes that they spy in UN uniforms… Now, I’m shocked that they are niggling at us why we’ve saved the weak in Red Crescent uniforms! Isn’t rescuing Muslims and any human who is suffering from oppression the meaning of this uniform?”

Meanwhile, the regime’s Red Crescent issued a statement saying: “This incident and claim are from 20 years ago and right now nothing has happened that resembles what he [Ghasemi] has said.”

“These statements are claims that are unacceptable to us because we haven’t given permission to him [Ghasemi] and won’t give anybody else such permission. If he has done any misuse, he must be responsible for it himself,” the statement further read.

“We are still reviewing and haven’t done anything in this regard. If necessary, we will sue,” a Red Crescent official said in this regard.

For those of us who are familiar with how the Iranian Red Crescent and IRGC work, these denial sounds outrageously ridiculous. Almost every high-ranking official of the Red Crescent is a former member of the IRGC.

In 2009, Yemen’s Interior Minister shut down two medical centers related to Iran’s Red Crescent, stating that the IRGC was supporting the Houthis with weapons and logistics through these centers.

In 2015, Yemeni officials accused the regime in Iran of sending weapons to Yemen under the cover of the Red Crescent.

Iran’s terrorist activities in foreign countries under the cover of the Red Crescent is not limited to Bosnia or Yemen.

The IRGC has also launched numerous NGOs and medical centers in southern cities of Iraq where the centers act as support and supply hubs for Iran-affiliated militia groups.

This recent controversy around the remarks of an IRGC veteran about the Red Crescent’s involvement with the IRGC shows the shaky situation of the Islamic Republic after the IRGC has been designated and energy sanctions have been enforced on the country’s bloodline of foreign currency.