Canada lists Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorist group

The IRGC
The UK has been reluctant to label the IRGC as a terrorist group - AFP

Canada has listed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group while calling on Canadians in Iran to leave.

“Our government has made the decision to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code,” Dominic LeBlanc, the public safety minister, told a news conference.

Flanked by Canada’s foreign and justice ministers, he accused the Iranian regime of “support for terrorism” and “having consistently displayed disregard for human rights both inside and outside of Iran, as well as a willingness to destabilise the international rules-based order”.

Melanie Joly, the foreign minister, noting that Ottawa broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2012, urged Canadians against travelling to Iran.

“For those who are in Iran right now. It’s time to come back home,” she said.

Britain and the US have been reluctant to label the IRGC as a terrorist group despite its support of Hamas and links to attacks on foreign soil.

The terrorism listing bars members of the group from entering Canada and Canadians from having any dealings with individual members or the group. Any assets the Guards or its members hold in Canada may also be seized.

‘Huge step forward’

Iranian expats and families of the victims of Flight PS752, which was downed by Iran shortly after takeoff from Tehran in January 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew, including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents, have long pressed Ottawa to designate the militia as a terrorist entity.

MPs last month unanimously voted to do so.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau’s administration had, until now, expressed a reluctance, explaining that a terror listing could be too broad and inadvertently impact Iranians in Canada opposed to the regime.

Kourosh Doustshenas, speaking on behalf of the families of Flight PS752 victims, welcomed the group’s terrorism listing, calling it “a huge step forward in the search for justice for everyone who has been a victim of this organisation”.

Canada’s blacklist includes nearly 80 entities such as Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Islamic State group and the Proud Boys, a North American neo-fascist militant group.

Ottawa has previously listed the Quds Force, a branch of the IRGC, as a terrorist entity, and in 2022 permanently denied entry to more than 10,000 Iranian officials, including members of the IRGC.

Iran regime ‘brutal and repressive’

The United States listed the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organisation in April 2019.

Earlier this month, the European Union also sanctioned the group for allegedly supplying drones to Russia and its allies in the Middle East.

The decision to add the IRGC to Canada’s terror list comes amid tensions between Ottawa and Tehran. Canada and other nations have sued Iran at the International Court of Justice over the downing of Flight PS752.

Tehran has claimed a missile strike on the aircraft was carried out by mistake.

Ahead of the press conference, Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister, described the Iran regime as “brutal, repressive, theocratic and misogynist”.