The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

he Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that cultivates proxies and partners worldwide via its extraterritorial special operations branch, the Quds Force. The IRGC’s malign and destabilizing activities have never been restricted to the Middle East. It has growing operational capabilities in every region of the world, including in the Western Hemisphere.

In 2010, the Pentagon reported to the U.S. Congress that the Quds Force was increasing its presence in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela. A former CIA employee confirmed this report, stating that IRGC personnel, including Quds Force operatives, were transported to Venezuela via the “Aeroterror” flights and took positions in Venezuela’s security services.

In 2019, then Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Zarif, often hailed in the West as a moderate figure, proposed the provision of an IRGC detachment to preserve Maduro’s domestic security. In 2020, then-commander of the U.S. Southern Command, Rear Admiral Craig Faller, pointed out that his office had “seen an uptick in Iranian state-sponsored activity and liaison with Venezuela that has included Quds Force.”

The Quds Force aims to establish intelligence and asymmetric capabilities to conduct attacks against its enemies. In July 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Iranian intelligence operatives who had attempted to kidnap Iranian-American activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, revealing that they were planning to take her to Venezuela aboard speedboats for onward deployment to Iran.