June 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

Canada Designates IRGC as Terrorist Organization

June 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

Canada Designates IRGC as Terrorist Organization

Latest Developments

Canada’s federal government designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on June 19 as a terrorist organization pursuant to the Criminal Code. The move comes after years of pressure from Canada’s parliament, opposition, and Iranian diaspora, which have repeatedly highlighted the IRGC’s longstanding role in fomenting international terrorism, including against Canadians. The move follows last month’s unanimous passage by Canada’s House of Commons of a motion calling on the government to make the designation.

“As an immediate consequence of this listing, Canadian financial institutions, such as banks and brokerages, are required to immediately freeze the property of a listed entity,” the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. “It is a criminal offence for anyone in Canada and Canadians abroad to knowingly deal with property owned or controlled by a terrorist group.”

Expert Analysis

“Now let’s see if the Canadian government actually enforces the law and cracks down on IRGC members tormenting Iranian-Canadians, as well as on the IRGC-linked assets that have long found a safe haven in Canada’s economy.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“This designation is welcome but long overdue. It should not have taken Prime Minister Trudeau so many years to recognize the obvious: The IRGC is a terrorist organization that Ottawa must punish using every tool at its disposal.” — Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor

IRGC Responsible for Canadian Deaths

In January 2020, the IRGC shot down Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, killing all 176 passengers — including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. Ontario judge Edward Belobaba later ruled that “the shooting down of Flight 752” by the IRGC “was an act of terrorism.” He said the IRGC “knew Flight PS 752 was a civilian airplane and purposefully shot it down with the intent to destroy it.”

The victims’ families repeatedly pressed Ottawa to hold the IRGC accountable, but the Trudeau government took only limited action until now. In November 2022, Ottawa designated the Islamic Republic of Iran pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act “as a regime that has engaged in terrorism and systematic and gross human rights violations.” The designation barred more than 10,000 Iranian officials, including IRGC personnel, from entering Canada.

IRGC Designated in the United States, But Not in the EU

The United States designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019. “We’re doing [this] because the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government,” then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “This historic step will deprive the world’s leading state sponsor of terror the financial means to spread misery and death around the world.”

In December 2023, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, led by Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), sent a letter to Trudeau urging him to designate the IRGC. “It is vital that Canada recognizes the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and takes all appropriate steps to address it,” the lawmakers said. In May 2023, another bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Reps. Tenney and Brad Schneider (D-IL), sent a similar letter to Trudeau.

The European Union (EU) has not designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization. In 2023, the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution calling on the EU to make the designation, but EU leaders thus far have refused.

Case for Designation Has Grown Since October 7

While the IRGC’s role in international terrorism dates back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the case for designation significantly grew following the October 7, 2023, atrocities in Israel carried out by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists. The IRGC has trained, armed, and funded Hamas, making the IRGC complicit in the October 7 attack. The IRGC has also trained, armed, and funded Hezbollah, its proxy terrorist group in Lebanon, which has killed more than 20 Israeli soldiers in cross-border attacks in the wake of October 7. The IRGC has similarly trained, funded, and armed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have conducted more than 50 strikes against commercial shipping in the Red Sea since November.

The IRGC fired more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel directly from Iranian territory in April. The air defense systems of Israel and allied nations shot down 99 percent of them.

October 7 attacks strengthen case for designating IRGC as a terrorist organization,” by Tzvi Kahn

Canada’s House of Commons Presses Trudeau to Designate IRGC,” FDD Flash Brief

Canada Must Impose Consequences on Iran for Downing Flight PS752,” by Tzvi Kahn and Toby Dershowitz

Canada must put Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on terrorist list under Criminal Code,” by Toby Dershowitz, Tzvi Kahn, and Kaitlyn Romaine


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism