April 19, 2019
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, recently blacklisted as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US, declined statements made by one of its ex-generals on the armed force’s links with terrorist groups and cooperation with al-Qaeda in the early 90s.
Saeed Ghasemi, a retired general who gained notoriety for his role in the Ansar-e Hezbollah militia, revealed in an interview with the state-approved internet channel, Aparat, that in the 90s he visited Bosnia to train Muslim fighters against the Serbs while wearing the Iranian Red Crescent uniform.
In the same interview, Ghasemi admits that he is divulging the fact since the Americans have already discovered the ploy and written about it.
Lambasting Ghasemi’s revelations, Revolutionary Guard spokesman, Ramazan Sharif, said: “Saeed Ghasemi’s remarks, who for a while was in Bosnia voluntarily and has retired a long time ago, are his personal views, devoid of credibility and are not shared by the IRGC (an acronym for the Revolutionary Gaurd),” according to ISNA.
Sharif also downplayed Ghasemi’s comments and said: “These types of comments by Ghasemi have precedents and the responsibility of these comments are on him.” But he also warned Ghasemi and other retired members of Revolutionary Guard to avoid “making irresponsible and untrue claims” and not to provide “excuse and tools” to the enemy.
It is worth noting that the official response is the first in a three-day-long controversy revolving around the Revolutionary Guard’s involvement with al-Qaeda.
President Hassan Rouhani’s office also dismissed the remarks, saying that the claims help “the enemy”.
The Iranian Red Crescent has also officially dismissed Qassemi’s claims and threatened to sue him. “If an individual or a state entity has used the logo or uniform of the IRCS for operations against the aims and principles of the International Red Cross Society, it definitely happened without the permission of the IRCS or in coordination with it,” IRCS announced. Even if the IRCS permission was sought, the statement argued, it would have never been given, the relief group added.
“Based on the four conventions ratified in Geneva, the IRCS is impartial in armed conflicts since it has the important responsibility of supporting humanity and civilians,” the statement has insisted.