On Oct. 16, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned a wide network of businesses that support Iran’s Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force that works for Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The IRGC’s Basij is known for recruiting, training and deploying child soldiers to fight in Iran’s conflicts throughout the Middle East. The group’s activity includes indoctrinating and providing military training to schoolchildren as young as 12 years old, as well as sending children as young as 14 to Syria to fight on behalf of Iran.
The sanctioned network of businesses—known as the Bonyad Taavon Basij (or “Basij Cooperative Foundation”)—is made up of at least 20 corporations and financial institutions that provide financial support for the Basij’s activities.
“The Bonyad Taavon Basij network is an example of how the IRGC and Iranian military forces have expanded their economic involvement in major industries, and infiltrated seemingly legitimate businesses to fund terrorism and other malign activities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction.”
According to the Treasury Department, the network uses “shell companies and other measures to mask Basij ownership and control over a variety of multibillion-dollar business interests in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries, many of which have significant international dealings across the Middle East and with Europe.”
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real world humanitarian consequences. This helps fuel the Iranian regime’s violent ambitions across the Middle East,” Sec. Mnuchin added.
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