Attack on Salman Rushdie prompts U.S. sanctions against Iranian group
President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered sanctions against an Iranian group linked to the Ayatollah’s regime, blaming it for the murder of an American-based journalist. The move, which will also target a prominent human rights lawyer, comes as relations between the United States and Iran remain tense after the U.S. administration decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
A U.S. official familiar with the matter said the sanctions were first announced by the State Department and were aimed at the Popular Iran March 17 Campaign, a group in which Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s supporters were prominent members. On Monday night, the official said the sanctions were lifted when the group “represents a threat to the United States and its interest.”
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Trump offered no further explanation of the move, but the White House confirmed that the sanctions would be announced on Wednesday afternoon, “pending verification.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the move at the time of publication.
“There will be strong sanctions taken against the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and its supporters,” Trump tweeted early Tuesday.
Trump also threatened that the new measures would “break the deal” with Iran because the United States had abandoned it and he said he would “renegotiate a better deal for the U.S.” The withdrawal from the 2015 agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, did not happen because Trump had threatened to withdraw unless Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities.
In an act of retribution, the IRGC, which is responsible for the Revolutionary Guard Force, a paramilitary force with an extensive military and intelligence apparatus, was recently designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union; Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said in a statement he would “cut the throats of the American and the Zionist dogs” if it harmed Iran’s national security.
The Revolutionary Guard itself was designated last August as a terror group, along with its commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem