Canada puts Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on terror blacklist

Ottawa warns citizens to leave Iran, drops long-standing objections to IRGC terror designation, after opposition MPs and others step up pressure following missile attack on Israel

In this September 21, 2016, file photo, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade in Tehran, Iran. ​(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
In this September 21, 2016, file photo, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade in Tehran, Iran. ​(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Canada on Wednesday listed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, while calling on Canadians in the Islamic country to leave.

“Our government has made the decision to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code,” Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told a news conference.

Opposition legislators have long demanded the IRGC be blacklisted but the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously resisted pressure, saying the move would risk unintended consequences.

Canadian lawmakers stepped up the campaign in April after Iran fired hundreds of missiles at Israel, and in May Canada’s House of Commons unanimously backed a report that called on the government to declare the IRGC a terror group.

The office of Foreign Minister Melanie Joly warned Canadians in Iran that they could face arbitrary detention by Tehran over the move.

“My message is clear: for those who are in Iran right now, it’s time to come back home,” she said Wednesday, according to “And for those who are planning to go to Iran, don’t go.”

Canada already listed the IRGC’s overseas arm, the Quds Force, as a terrorist group. Ottawa broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran in 2012.

Once a group is placed on the terror list, police can charge anyone who financially or materially supports the group and banks can freeze assets, according to the CBC, which first reported on Ottawa’s plans earlier Wednesday.

People rally in downtown Ottawa, Canada, in support of freedom for women and ongoing protests in Iran, October 29, 2022. (Dave Chan/AFP)

In October 2022, Canada said it would ban the IRGC’s top leadership from entering the country and promised more targeted sanctions. At the time, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland stated that “the IRGC is a terrorist organization.”

At the same time, Ottawa rejected adding the IRGC to its terror blacklist, saying the move might unfairly ensnare Iranians in Canada who had fled the country but were conscripted into the force when still in Iran.

The IRGC, a powerful armed militia that controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces in Iran, has been accused by Western nations of carrying out a global terrorist campaign. Iran rejects that.

In 2020, the IRGC shot down a Ukrainian jetliner flying from Tehran to Kyiv, killing everyone on board, including 57 Canadians and dozens of others who were traveling to Canada via Ukraine.

Trudeau told families of victims in January that the government was “continuing to look for ways to responsibly list the IRGC as a terrorist organization.”

Iranians walk past a poster honoring the victims of a Ukrainian passenger jet accidentally shot down in the capital last week, in front of the Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, on January 13, 2020. (ATTA KENARE/AFP)

Hamed Esmaeilion of the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims told the CBC that the organization welcomed the apparent move, which it has repeatedly called on the government to take.

“It has been a long journey. Long and painful,” he told the CBC.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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