(May 21, 2020 / JNS) The United States on Wednesday sanctioned Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, seven senior officials of the country’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) and a provincial commander of the Islamic Republic’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced the U.S. State and Treasury Departments.
The Trump administration also sanctioned an economic collaborative controlled by the LEF that is active in numerous sectors of Iran’s economy, along with its director and members of the board of trustees, according to the departments.
“The Iranian regime violently suppresses dissent of the Iranian people, including peaceful protests, through physical and psychological abuse,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people.”
Fazli, who is also the chair of Iran’s National Domestic Security Council (NDSC), oversees the LEF, of which he authorized to use lethal force in response to the November 2019 protests, resulting in violence against peaceful protesters and bystanders, according to State and Treasury. His orders led to the killing of many protesters, including at least 23 minors.
The LEF has also supported President Bashar Assad in the civil conflict in Syria, according to the Treasury Department.
The NDSC was involved in the Iranian regime’s decision to impose a days-long Internet blackout in November 2019 during the protests, said Treasury.
Under Fazli’s tenure, the interior ministry has routinely denied permits—or granted permits and then denied security—for the gatherings. Groups were then attacked by plainclothes individuals believed to be part of the intelligence and security apparatus, according to Treasury.
Fazli and his immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States, according to the State Department.
The LEF officials who were sanctioned by the United States on Wednesday were its commander, Hossein Ashtari Fard; its deputy commander, Ayoub Soleimani; its chief of the defense and intelligence organization, Mohsen Fathi Zadeh; its planning and budget deputy, Yahya Mahmoodzadeh; its legal and parliamentary affairs deputy, Hamidraza Ashraq; and its deputy coordinator, Mohammad Ali Noorinajad.
Those officials are or have been members of the LEF Cooperative Foundation, an economic collaborative controlled by the LEF and active in Iran’s energy, construction, services, technology and banking industries. It reportedly sold oil worth $180 million—profits that were not repatriated to the government, according to Treasury, which noted that the LEF was one of the entitles sanctioned on Wednesday, along with the Great Tehran Penitentiary and Qarchak Prison.
LEF Cooperative Foundation managing director Habil Darvish was also sanctioned by the United States on Wednesday, according to Treasury.
IRGC Brig. Gen. Hassan Shahvarpour, also the commander of the IRGC’s Vali Asr Base in Khuzestan province, was also sanctioned by the United States, according to Treasury. Shahvarpour and his immediate family members are barred from entering the United States.
Finally, Ali Fallahian, who served as the head of Iran’s intelligence service (MOIS) from 1989 to 1997, was sanctioned by the United States on Wednesday, announced the State Department.
During his tenure, he was involved in multiple assassinations and attacks across the globe, including the 1995 killing of Alisa Flatow, a 20-year old U.S. exchange student who was killed in a suicide bombing in the Gaza Strip, according to the department.
He was also behind the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 85 individuals, according to State. He and his immediate family members are also permanently barred from entering the United States.
The latest round of sanctions exemplifies the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran since withdrawing the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new financial penalties on the regime.
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