02:51 GMT25 November 2020
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    The US Treasury has issued sanctions against five Iranian entities accused of attempting to interfere in the US 2020 elections, seizing their assets and prohibiting US persons from engaging in transactions with them.

    IRGC Said to Mastermind Attempted Interference

    The US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused five Iranian entities of being "components of the Government of Iran, disguised as news organizations or media outlets" and attempting to interfere in the US elections.

    The five entities named in the Treasury's press release on Thursday are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, and  Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM), two media entities the Treasury says are controlled by the Quds Force.

    The Trump administration previously designated the IRGC a terrorist organization in April 2019 in a move that shocked and confused onlookers, since no terrorist action has ever been traced back to the IRGC, which is a paramilitary organization formed during the 1979 revolution to uphold the recently-founded Islamic Republic.

    The move comes a day after the FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused Iran and Russia of attempting to influence the US elections scheduled for November 3. Among the actions Iran is accused of is sending threatening emails purported to be from the far-right gang the Proud Boys to Democratic voters threatening them if they don't vote for US President Donald Trump.

    According to the Treasury, Bayan Gostar, IRTVU, and IUVM acted on behalf of the IRGC to disrupt the US elections "by exploiting social issues within the United States, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and denigrating U.S. political figures" as well as amplifying "false narratives in English, and posted disparaging propaganda articles and other US-oriented content with the intent to sow discord among US audiences. IUVM also posted conspiracy theories and disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

    As a result, the Treasury has seized all property and interests connected to any of the five entities and promised further sanctions against anyone who engages in transactions with them.

    Iran has rejected the accusations. Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesperson for Iran’s mission at the United Nations, told ABC News earlier on Thursday the US' claims were “absurd,” noting, “Iran has no interest in interfering in the US election and no preference for the outcome.”

    Treasury Accuses Iran's Ambassador to Iraq of Helping Quds Force

    The Treasury also brought sanctions against Iraj Masjedi, a general in the Quds Force and Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq, of using his position in Baghdad to further the Quds Force's alleged goals in that country.

    "In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq. In his current capacity, Masjedi has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit of the IRGC-QF," the Treasury press release claims.

    These are claims similar to those brought by the US against Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force who was assassinated by a US drone strike outside Baghdad in January. The press release notes Masjedi was a "close adviser" to Soleimani who "played a formative role in the IRGC-QF’s Iraq policy."

    Likewise, the Treasury has seized Masjedi's assets and prohibited US persons or entities from engaging in transactions with him.

    Treasury Sanctions Two Hezbollah Leaders

    Washington has also levied sanctions against Nabil Qaouk and Hassan al-Baghdadi, two figures on Hezbollah's governing Central Council, claiming that as such, the individuals facilitate terrorism using financial assets abroad, including in the United States.

    According to the US Treasury's press release, "all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked" until they are registered with the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. OFAC is empowered to grant them specific licenses or exemptions, but generally does not.

    Related:

    US Intelligence Claims Russia, Iran Acting to Influence 2020 Election
    Iran Has No Interest in Interfering in US Election, Tehran's UN Mission Spokesman Says
    Iran Summons Swiss Ambassador Over US Claim Tehran Interfered in American Presidential Vote
    Tags:
    Iraq, US Election 2020, Iran, sanctions, US Treasury, 1982 Lebanon War, Lebanon, Hezbollah
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