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Three Years Later, B’nai Brith Canada Not Backing Down on IRGC

An image of IRGC members (Washington Post)

June 11, 2021

OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada is baffled and disturbed that the Canadian government has failed to comply, three years after the fact, to a parliamentary motion to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.

Tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of the House of Commons motion calling on the government to do exactly what B’nai Brith has consistently proposed – listing the entirety of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Despite the broad expression of the will of Canada’s elected representatives, the government has not acted in the three years that have elapsed since — even though the IRGC has had Canadian blood on its hands during that same time.

Canada already recognizes the Quds Force, a branch of the IRGC, as a terrorist entity — but not the IRGC as a whole. No artificial distinction can be drawn between one part of the IRGC and the force as a whole. Canada makes no such distinctions with respect to different parts of Hamas or Hezbollah, already listed as terrorist entities, just because they are involved in the governments of Lebanon or the Palestinian Authority. Terrorism is terrorism.

In Iran, the IRGC is responsible for carrying out and enforcing the regime’s violent and repressive agenda. This includes suppressing anti-government protests, repressing members of the LGBTQ+ community, and persecuting women and religious minorities.

Abroad, the IRGC, a branch of Iran’s military, is specifically tasked with serving as the main link between the regime and its terror proxies such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas. A primary objective of the IRGC is to fuel and fund terrorism throughout the Middle East. It serves as a constant threat to the safety and security of civilians in the region.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight with two surface-to-air missiles shortly after takeoff from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 passengers onboard. There were 138 passengers onboard with ties to Canada, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has ruled that the shooting down of Flight PS752 by Iran was an intentional act of terrorism. The IRGC has yet to pay any serious price for this abhorrent attack.

In January, 2020, B’nai Brith made a request of the federal government to indicate whether it intended to designate the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist group. When the government failed to answer, in February 2020, B’nai Brith launched a lawsuit asking the court to order the federal government to answer our request, one way or the other, yes or no.

Failing to list the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist organization leaves the Canadian public in danger, particularly Canada’s Iranian and Jewish communities, as nothing is stopping IRGC agents from operating and fundraising on Canadian soil.

B’nai Brith’s lawsuit was supported by several Iranian Canadian groups, who are equally concerned about the IRGC’s presence in Canada.

As part of its lawsuit, B’nai Brith wants the government to disclose materials relevant to the decision concerning listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity. The government objected to the disclosure. However, B’nai Brith did not find the government’s objections to our request satisfactory. We believe the government did not fully adhere to the law in its objections. Consequently, we have turned to the court system and filed a notice of motion, asking the court to intervene on our behalf to ensure that the duty to disclose is fully met.

In the time since the motion originally passed, the United States has designated the IRGC as a terrorist group. If an argument is made that Canada should proceed only in concert with its allies and partners, the U.S. action provides ample precedent.

“It is unacceptable for the government to further delay, particularly after the downing of Flight PS752 and the findings of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Action must be taken now to respond to the will of Parliament and of all Canadians. The government must list the IRGC immediately in order to keep Canadians safe and stand with the victims of terror and oppression abroad. In February, the government acted expeditiously to list far-right, mostly neo-Nazi groups as part of Canada’s ongoing fight against terrorism. We welcomed that move. That being said, we remain disturbed by the government’s longstanding failure to list the IRGC.  Ultimately, the IRGC is much more dangerous than any of the groups listed, and constitutes a real and present danger to Iranian dissidents, the Jewish community and Canadians in general.”

“We regret that the government has failed to respond to our request,” said David Matas, B’nai Brith Canada’s Senior Legal Counsel. “We will continue to insist that this listing go forward, as the bipartisan motion called for, and that IRGC in its entirety be designated as a terrorist entity.”