The aim may be to radicalize British Muslims, inciting violence
A series of videos in which Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals address Muslim students in Britain, making anti-Semitic and denialist speeches. This was revealed by a long investigation by the BBC, according to which the British authorities are also examining videos shot on the premises of an Islamic charity in the country in which some present chant the slogan “Death to Israel”.
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the speeches a “brazen act of radicalisation” and called for the Pasdaran to be added to the list of banned terrorist groups in the UK, urging the government to make illegal such events which represent “a risk to the stability of our country”. “I really worry about the state of our society, everyone should be horrified by what they see in those videos,” she argued, “They incite hatred, division, violence, they are potentially incredibly serious.”
General Ghasemi: “The Holocaust? It’s a fake”
The attention of British TV is focused on two verified videos showing speeches by Pasdaran leaders. According to some parliamentarians, their goal would be to radicalize British Muslimswhile for the security services incite violence and plot to kidnap or kill on his British.
The three videos, seen by the BBC, were recorded in 2020 and 2021. Two are live-streamed speeches by commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, one of which is still operational. The other concerns a face-to-face event at the Kanoon Towhid Islamic center in west London, to commemorate Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in 2020. During that event chanted the slogan ‘Death to Israel’ by unknown persons.
The speeches by the Pasdaran commanders were promoted by the Islamic Students Association of Great Britain (ISA) and its affiliates, who use the Kanoon Towhid center (owned by the Charitable Trust al-Tawheed, already the subject of an investigation by the Charity Commission) as a meeting place. Unlike the country’s main Muslim student groups, the ISA was founded to promote the ideology of the founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In one of the videos – an Instagram Live from Iran from September 2020 that has had around 1,500 views – the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Yekta, says that universities have become “the front of the battle” and urged students to listen to become “soft-war officers”. According to Kasra Aarabi – a leader of the US-based group United Against Nuclear Iran who shared the videos with the BBC – this expression is a term used by Iranian authorities to describe recruits in their ideological battle with the West.
In the other video, this time from January 2021, Soleimani’s death is glorified. Seen by tens of thousands of people, in the video the former Pasdaran commander, General Saeed Ghasemi, compares the general’s death to a scene from the film Terminator 2. “You killed Qassem – he says, referring to the United States – but he killed broke the hearts of millions of people in the Islamic world. You can no longer stop it.”
In the video, Ghasemi declares Holocaust was ‘a lie and a forgery’ and evokes an apocalyptic war that British students could join to “put an end to the lives of the oppressors and occupiers of Zionists and Jews throughout the world“, adding that “God willing, I and you good students of Europe will be registered from this evening on the wonderful list of resistance soldiers”.
In addition to the videos, the BBC saw images of another speech to British students delivered live on Zoom in November 2020 by the former commander of the Pasdaran, Ezzatollah Zarghami, sanctioned in the United Kingdom for human rights violations. Zarghami was part of the group of radical students who stormed the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. He is now Iran’s minister of cultural heritage and tourism and boasts of having trained Hamas in Gaza before the October 7 attacks.