U.S. Amends FTO Immigration Restrictions

U.S. Amends FTO Immigration Restrictions

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) 

U.S. Amends FTO Immigration Restrictions 

The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and Secretary of State published a notice last Thursday, proclaiming that provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act will no longer apply to individuals who have provided “insignificant material support or limited material support…to a designated terrorist organization.” The entry ban on these individuals will be lifted “provided they satisfy relevant agency authority that the individual...poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.”  

Other factors taken into consideration include whether the individual had any intent or desire to assist a terror organization or activity or had prior knowledge of targeting “noncombatant persons, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests.” However, the decree did note that “this exercise of authority may be revoked as a matter of discretion and without notice at any time, with respect to any and all persons subject to it.” 

Some news outlets interpreted this guidance, whose language was broad and vague, as applying to conscripts who served in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is a designated foreign terrorist organization. But the U.S. State Department denied its application “to people who have received military-type training from [foreign terrorist organizations], including IRGC conscripts.” Rather, the U.S. State Department said the changes “are an effort to address issues related to Afghanistan. The circumstances between Afghanistan and Iran are very different.” But when the Washington Free Beacon requested an explanation as to why the IRGC would not be covered by the changes, the department said, “we have no further information or comments to share.”

More IRGC Reshuffling 

In addition to the departure of Hossein Taeb as the head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization last week, additional changes were instituted in the IRGC’s command structure over the last few days. With Mohammad Kazemi’s elevation as the new head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, Majid Khademi replaced him as the commander of the IRGC’s Intelligence Protection Organization. Khademi’s previous position included heading the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics’ (MODAFL) own Intelligence Protection Organization. Separately, after over ten years in his post, Ebrahim Jabbari left his post as commander of the IRGC’s Vali Amr Protection Unit, which provides personal security to Iran’s supreme leader. He was replaced with Hassan Mashroueifar. Separately, the New York Times reported this week that Israel’s use of the Octopus Doctrine—targeting Iran proper with assassinations and sabotage—rather than just its proxies has triggered a wave of distrust and paranoia in the ranks of the IRGC.  

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Israeli Defense Officials: Mossad Uncovered Two Additional Iranian Cells in Turkey 

After 10 Iranians were arrested by Turkish law enforcement on suspicion of planning an attack on a former Israeli ambassador, Hebrew-language Walla! News learned that Mossad – Israel’s external intelligence branch – helped uncover two additional Iranian cells. According to the Israeli news site, these cells had planned attacks against Israeli tourists. Walla! learned from Israeli security officials that Mossad had foiled a total of three Iranian plots against Israelis in Turkey. They said that the arrest of the cell planning to attack the former ambassador had removed part of the threat directed at Israelis on Turkish soil, but that the threat still remains because additional Iranian cells are active. “We still haven’t returned to normal, and we’re not removing the travel warning,” one security official said.  

U.S. Met with Israeli and Arab Military Chiefs to Counter Iran Air Threat 

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. convened a secret meeting of top military officials from Israel and Arab countries in March to explore how they could coordinate against Iran’s growing missile and drone capabilities, according to officials from the U.S. and the region. The meeting brought together the top military officers from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan and came as Israel and its neighbors are in the early stage of discussing potential military cooperation, the officials said. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also sent officers to the meeting. The U.S. was represented by Gen. Frank McKenzie, then the head of the U.S. Central Command.  

In a statement, Col. Joe Buccino, a Central Command spokesman, didn’t acknowledge the Sharm El Sheikh meeting but said the command “maintains a firm commitment to increasing regional cooperation and developing integrated air and missile defense architecture to protect our force and our regional partners.” Iran “is the primary destabilizing factor across the Middle East,” he added. Spokesmen for Israel and Arab countries—except the U.A.E.—declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment on the meeting. The U.A.E. didn’t comment on the talks, but addressed the issue of cooperation broadly. “The U.A.E. is not party to any regional military alliance or cooperation targeting any specific country,” the government there said in a statement. “Furthermore, the U.A.E. is not aware of any formal discussions relating to any such regional military alliance.”  

Saudi Arabia, which hasn’t established diplomatic relations with Israel, is unlikely to publicly embrace an air defense alliance that includes Israel until after the two countries formalize ties, officials from two Arab countries said. Still, the Sharm El Sheikh meeting brought together Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, with Gen. Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili, the chief of staff of the Saudi armed forces. 

Palestinian Militant Groups Huddle Ahead of Biden’s Trip to the Middle East 

As Hamas Leader Ismael Haniyeh visited Lebanon in recent days, in addition to meeting with Hezbollah’s secretary-general, he also met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and other groups in Beirut. The groups said after the meeting they discussed “the mechanisms of action to confront the dangers facing the Palestinian issue at various levels.” Separately, the National and Islamic Forces, an alliance of Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, warned that the “goal of these alliances is not to protect the security of the Arab countries, but rather to control and dominate the security of the region and push Arab countries into proxy wars and conflicts that drain the nation’s capability and resources and threaten their security and stability.” This is a signal that Iran’s proxies and partners are warily eyeing U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia in July.  


Iran and Hezbollah Attempted to Hack UNIFIL 

On Wednesday, Israel’s defense minister revealed that Iran and Hezbollah recently attempted a cyberattack against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He said, “they launched a cyber operation with the aim of stealing materials about UNIFIL activities and deployment in the area, for Hezbollah’s use. This is yet another direct attack by Iran and Hezbollah on Lebanese citizens and on Lebanon’s security.”  

Hezbollah Establishes New Observation Posts on Israel-Lebanon Border 

Israel’s Channel 12 News reported last weekend that Hezbollah had set up 15 new observation posts along the Israel-Lebanon border, each standing about 5-250 yards from the border. They are staffed by Hezbollah operatives and consist of an observation tower and residential structures. A “Green Without Borders” flag flies over the posts, but it is an environmental front group for Hezbollah, according to Israeli officials.