By Pooya Stone
The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action on Monday against Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff and nine individuals who are appointees of, or have acted for or on behalf of, Ali Khamenei, the “Iranian regime’s unelected Supreme Leader whose office is responsible for advancing Iran’s radical agenda”.
This action seeks to block funds from flowing to a “shadow network” of Ali Khamenei’s military and foreign affairs advisors who have for decades “oppressed the Iranian people, exported terrorism, and advanced destabilizing policies around the world”, the US Treasury said in a statement.
The Treasury Department said Iran’s regime has not changed since the crisis and cited this lack of progression in imposing financial sanctions on nine members of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s inner circle.
Those hit with sanctions include Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran’s judiciary, as well as the Armed Forces General Staff and its commander-in-chief, Mohammad Bagheri, the supreme leader’s second son, Mojtaba Khamenei, and Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior foreign policy advisor to Ali Khamenei.
Velayati, who served as Iran's foreign minister from 1981-1997, is wanted in Argentina in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center blamed on Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group with close ties to Tehran.
The Treasury pointed specifically to Raisi, who has overseen the execution of thousands of political prisoners in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. The victims were mainly members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
“Raisi participated in a so-called "death commission" that ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988”, the Treasury statement said.
It added that the 40th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis is a reminder that the Iranian regime is still committed to violence.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Trump administration is targeting “the unelected officials who surround Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and implement his destabilizing policies”.
“These individuals are linked to a wide range of malign behaviors by the regime, including bombings of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in 1994, as well as torture, extrajudicial killings, and repression of civilians”, Mnuchin said in a statement.
“This action further constricts the Supreme Leader’s ability to execute his agenda of terror and oppression”.
“While the Iranian regime’s decision to jail our diplomats have cast a 40-year shadow over our relations, the United States knows that the longest-suffering victims of the Iranian regime are the Iranian people. We wish nothing more for them than a future with a truly representative government and friendship with the American people”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.