By Tony Duheaume
Al Arabiya, 20 October 2017 - The Quds Force (QF) is the most secretive unit within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, tasked with the export of the Iranian regime’s own unique brand of Islamic revolution and fundamentalism, which it spreads through its proxies across the globe.
Over the years, the QF has perfected the art of terrorism, a tactic it brought into the world in the 1980s, which was then adopted by al-Qaeda in the mid-1990s to carry out “martyrdom operations”.
Terrorism and other subversive activities
Running a network of thousands of operatives allows the QF to carry out terror attacks across the globe. But apart from its involvement in such attacks, its operatives also actively deal with intelligence gathering, the financing of terror groups and their operations on foreign soil, and the infiltration of foreign political parties, social groups and religious organizations. Its operatives also engage in the surveillance of foreign government officials, religious officials and speakers to spot sympathisers to its cause, which is part of its recruitment drive to sow seeds of its revolution in foreign lands, much of which is coordinated through its special operations branches.
Since their establishment in the early days of the Iranian regime, the sleeper cells of QF and Hezbollah have always been kept up and running, hidden within the population of their host countries, as they await orders from their masters. Under the control of both entities are thousands of agents, many of whom have entered their targeted countries under the guise of immigrants, students, journalists or construction workers.
Assassinations across the globe
In recent years, QF has been linked to numerous terrorist actions, including the October 2011 plot to murder the Saudi ambassador, which proved to be a setup by its secret service apparatus MOIS. Then on 12 January 012, Hezbollah militant by the name Atris Hussein (Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent) was arrested for storing four tons of bomb-making material in a warehouse just outside of Bangkok. Then on 24 January, 2012, a three-man terror cell run by Iran was busted before its planned attack on the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan. Then on 13 February, 2012, Hezbollah was alleged to be behind an assassination attempt against Israeli diplomats in New Delhi. A magnetic bomb was attached to an Israeli embassy car by a passing motorcyclist, which on explosion injured four people, including the wife of the Israeli defence attaché. An Indian Shiite journalist Syed Mohammed Kazmi, having connections with Iran, was arrested over his involvement in the bombing. An Indian court also issued arrest warrants against three Iranian citizens in this case. However, before these suspects could be apprehended, they managed to flee to Iran.
In the same month, there was an attempted bombing of an Israeli diplomat in Tbilisi, Georgia. In this incident, the bomb was defused and the trail of the crime reached the door of Hezbollah. In both attacks (New Delhi and Tbilisi), “magnetic bombs” that can be attached to a vehicle were used. Then in March 2012, four members of the QF were arrested in Turkey with weapons they were going to use against Israeli diplomats. However, the deadliest attacks by Iran’s proxies took place in July that year, when Hezbollah evidently conducted a suicide blast in a bus filled with Israeli tourists in Burgos, Bulgaria, which killed six people.
Besides these attacks, Hezbollah and QF were suspected of being involved in terrorist acts against embassies and overseas properties owned by Israel, America, and other Western countries. US officials believe that these attacks were carried out by the Quds Force and Hezbollah in retaliation for the assassination of the Hezbollah leader, Imad Mughniyah, who died in a car blast in Damascus in 2008. These strikes were supposedly carried out to deter Israelis from conducting attacks on personnel involved in Iran’s nuclear program, following the murder of four Iranian scientists. By striking at targets across the globe, Quds Force was issuing a warning that it could hit at anytime and anywhere, should more Iranian scientists be attacked.
Terror and sedition against Sunni regimes
When dealing with its Sunni neighbours, the Quds Force conducts both full-scale terrorist attacks — such as the Khobar bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 22 and injured 25 — as well as other subtler means for undermining the Sunni regimes it strongly detests. It teams up with branches of other proxy overseas terror groups such as of Hezbollah to infiltrate Shiite political opposition groups, as well as disgruntled members of different communities across the Gulf States, inciting them to organize anti-government marches and riots.
Two years after the Iranian Revolution, a Shiite proxy group staged an unsuccessful coup in Bahrain, and since that time Tehran has constantly issued threats against this brotherly GCC member state, which eventually culminated in the 2011 disturbances. Authorities believe Iran had stage-managed the protests and planned them to end in extreme violence. The whole protest was said to have been orchestrated by agitators connected to Hezbollah. Since that time, various disturbances have occurred and many terror plots have been thwarted. As Iran’s proxy war intensified, a huge cache of arms and explosives was seized in December 2013, which was destined for Shiite extremists.
Terror funding and weapons smuggling
Apart from such activities, QF has also been using its vast business interests to fund overseas terror groups allied to the regime, hidden from the scrutiny of foreign governments behind a facade of several “legitimate” front companies under its control, which allows money to flow undetected. QF also uses charities, cultural centres and education to indoctrinate the impressionable. It has also established liaison offices in the vicinity of Islamic holy sites, which supposedly tend to the needs of visiting Iranian pilgrims but are in reality recruiting offices used to entice new operatives.
With the use of various fronts, the Quds Force also has a well-established weapons smuggling ring under its control, which smuggles arms to various locations in both the Middle East and Africa. Among its customers are rebel groups based in Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia. They have also been supplying Hezbollah with weapons and ordinance since the group’s creation, which includes everything from light weapons to missiles. Since the beginning of the war in Syria, QF has also been supplying weapons and military assistance on the ground to President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.
Following the invasion of both Iraq - and Syria by ISIS, Iranian assistance was requested by both nations, and the military arm of QF entered the conflict. Acting as an expeditionary force under the command of Qassem Soleimani, the role of QF has been viewed as very important one by the Iraqi regime. With the ISIS now being virtually obliterated, Iran has gained effective control of both Iraq and Syria, which will not only provide its leadership two satellite states, but will also give its military forces access to the Mediterranean Sea. The overland route will be used for providing arms to its proxy Hezbollah and shall provide the regime a springboard for launching attacks at Gulf States.
Whilst acting as a military strike force in foreign interventions, QF trains local Shiite recruits to swell the ranks of militia groups under its control. These militias are then used to spearhead attacks against the enemy, in areas where the most intense military action takes place. Fighting alongside other foreign militias allied to Iran, which includes its proxy Hezbollah, these militias take part in the heavy end of the fighting, which keeps QF casualties to a minimum, avoiding heavy body counts to reduce impact on public opinion as regards the QF back home.
Ethnic cleansing of Sunnis
In many cases, highlighted in several reports by both the UN and human rights groups, regarding Iranian involvement in both Iraq and Syria, these Iranian-backed militia have been accused of carrying out harrowing atrocities against Sunni civilians, including ethnic cleansing. Much of this violent behaviour stems from the fact that most of those fighting in the ranks of these militias, have been heavily indoctrinated with extremist Shiite dogma, and have been taught to despise Sunnis.
With fanatics across the globe being under the control of QF, should a conflict ensue between the US and Iran, no country can consider itself safe. Not only is the Middle East riddled with its operatives, QF activities in the Balkans has also increased, with terrorists being recruited, trained and equipped ready to infiltrate Europe. Quds Force is also well-established in South America through Hezbollah and its recruiting, training and arming of operatives has been taking place there for many years. At the moment, Hezbollah is busy smuggling drugs into the US to boost its coffers, and should the US find itself in a conflict with Iran in future, Quds Force will be using its proxies to awaken and coordinate sleeper cells that are already in place there.