IRGC a Terror Organization? Ah, Yeah

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Why would there need to be some consideration to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror organization? Anyone?

Begin with Hezbollah:

US State Department-designated terrorist group Hezbollah announced that Facebook and Twitter had terminated its main accounts. In a post on encrypted messenger, Telegram, Hezbollah opined that the shutdowns were “part of the propaganda campaign against the resistance due to the important role of the organization’s information apparatus in various arenas.” Hezbollah then began redirecting people to other Hezbollah accounts on social media. More here.


The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command said on Thursday, after Iran warned it will block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has threatened in recent days to close the strait, a vital route for world oil supplies, if Washington tries to cut Tehran’s exports.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile U.S. action.

“The U.S. and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked what would be the U.S. Naval Forces reaction if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Navy (IRGCN) lacks a strong navy and instead focuses on an asymmetric warfare capability in the Gulf. It possesses many speed boats and portable anti-ship missile launchers and can lay naval mines. Full story.


The Trump administration is weighing whether to label a powerful arm of Iran’s military as a terrorist group, part of an effort to use every possible tool in the box to pressure Tehran.

Senior current and former officials familiar with the matter tell CNN the White House is considering designating Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, a debate that has senior Cabinet officials squaring off on both sides.

The designation decision, formally under the State Department’s purview, is taking on heightened importance as part of the White House’s increasingly aggressive strategy towards Iran. Officials have been debating it for several months and have yet to reach a consensus.

While some warn a designation could pose risks to US personnel and installations overseas, it would allow the White House to freeze IRGC assets, impose travel bans and levy criminal penalties on top of pre-existing economic sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.

“The United States is trying to change malign behavior of the Iranians and deter their aggression,” said Chris Costa, the executive director of the Spy Museum and a recently retired special adviser to Trump on counterterrorism. For that goal, “the special designation is a very important tool,” he said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in favor of the designation, sources familiar with his thinking say.

“There’s lots of things that are being discussed, things that will prove, we believe, very effective at the end goal-which is, at the end of the day, what matters, right?” Pompeo told CNN in a recent interview. “The end goal is to convince the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a normal country.” He declined to discuss specific plans for future sanctions and designations.

But labeling an official state military as a terror group, particularly a group with the reach and force of the IRGC, would be unprecedented and could expose US diplomatic and military officials to additional hazards, some warn.

The powerful military and security body is key to Iran’s influence in the Middle East, often linked to Iran’s support for terrorism. The organization controls wide swaths of the Iranian economy, including the energy sector.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has cautioned the administration that designating the IRGC could pose dangers to US forces, according to one source familiar with the matter. While the intelligence community doesn’t make policy decisions, its head, Coats, is the lowest common denominator who pools the analysis and assessments of all the agencies to advise policymakers.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke publicly about the potential dangers of designating the IRGC.

“There are particular risks and complexities to designating an entire army, so to speak, of a country where that then puts in place certain requirements … that then triggers certain actions that we think are not appropriate and not necessarily in the best interests of our military,” Tillerson told reporters during a press briefing in October.

Turning Up the Heat

In March, Trump ousted Tillerson, who had advocated for staying within the Iran deal, replacing him with Pompeo, then his Central Intelligence Agency director.

In contrast to Tillerson, Pompeo has been a hardline voice on Tehran. According to sources familiar with the matter, the top US diplomat wants as many designations against Iran as possible to squeeze its economy. He has not been shy in speeches or social media posts about stopping Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei from wreaking havoc in the Gulf.

Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, said talk of the possible terrorist designation was in keeping with an American tendency to use terrorism for political aims.

“The US a long history politicizing the term ‘terrorism’ for its own political ends, which undermines others fighting terrorism,” Miryousefi said. “To associate the term with the IRGC is categorically preposterous, especially considering their central role in fighting terrorism in the Middle East, including ISIS and al-Qaeda.”

The US will have to consider its allies in Europe if it takes the step of designating the IRGC.

Since Trump announced his intention to abandon the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal in May, his administration has imposed a swath of new sanctions, including one that will require all countries to eliminate Iranian oil imports by November. That move is particularly unpopular with European allies struggling to hold the deal together and keep a lid on Iranian nuclear development.

Trump administration officials leave next week for a second round of international trips to get partners on board with its broader strategy of increased sanctions and strictures on Iran. The National Security Council did not comment on that effort. Europeans say they remain unconvinced.

“The Americans haven’t explained how they want to reach their goals” with regards to Iran, said one European official. National security adviser John Bolton, meeting last month with European officials to talk about the US campaign against Iran, told them there would no exemptions from sanctions for European companies or entities that do business with Iran under UN sanctions, European officials said.

Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, stressed that point in a Monday briefing, telling reporters that the US is “not looking” to issue waivers to European companies.

‘Unconditional surrender’

Bolton told Europeans that Washington was looking for Iran’s “unconditional surrender,” harkening back to demands on Iran made by Pompeo during a speech in late May. The top US diplomat said at the time that the US wanted Iran to abandon its nuclear program, pull out of the Syrian war, and cut ties to terrorism.

Another senior State Department official said “we are looking at a range of avenues to increase pressure.”

Several other administration officials have suggested taking other steps to ramp up pressure on Iran before taking the dramatic step of designating the IRGC.

Successive administrations engaged in a similar debate on whether to designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization, ultimately deciding such a move would hamper efforts to negotiate a political solution in Afghanistan.

According to one former senior intelligence official, the debate about Iran has resurfaced many times over the years, often based on a specific incident or piece of intelligence. The intelligence community will “tell [the administration] what might happen if you do this, what might happen if you don’t,” the official said. “If we declare them terrorists, and we put pressure on them, you do have a number of people who say, ‘what would that do to our forces in Iraq and Syria?’”

Iranian forces might retaliate and “ramp up anti American activities in Iraq,” the official said. Iran could also call American special forces terrorists or threaten embassies, potentially endangering the long-term US presence in Iraq and Syria.

The IRGC, in particular a special unit called the Quds Force, which is the equivalent of US Joint Special Operations Command, has also attempted to recruit “operatives around the world to undertake activity on behalf of Iran,” the official continued.

While the Quds Force has done humanitarian work and conducted military operations over the years, “its current focus remains proxy activities in the region” in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, for example, the official said.

The IRGC “provides weapons, training for regional proxies, regional forces … it focuses on terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, the Houthis,” Costa, the former National Security Council counterterrorism adviser told CNN. “They’re a regional spoiler.”

Officials also suggested a designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, while dramatic, would be largely symbolic because it is already considered a terrorist entity under a 9/11-era executive order signed by President George W. Bush to block terrorist financing.

In October, Trump authorized sanctions aimed at the IRGC under that order, calling the Revolutionary Guard “the Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.” He urged US allies to follow suit and impose sanctions against Iran to target its support for terrorism. With a special foreign terrorist designation, the administration could levy a wider and more severe set of sanctions.

‘Another 120,000 terrorists’

Former top CIA lawyer John Rizzo told CNN that a special designation would likely not change how the CIA targets the IRGC.

“The longstanding legal criterion for how US [intelligence] agencies target foreign based threats is if a nation or group engages in international terrorist activities threatening the US or its allies,” he wrote to CNN. “‎For many years, the Iranian government and its entities has fit that bill.”

Many former military and intelligence officials told CNN that US troops are already in significant amounts of danger in the regions where our forces collide with Iran’s military or its proxy forces. Calling them out as terrorists wouldn’t make a big difference, they argue.

“It’s a specious argument to suggest the US military is more vulnerable” if the US makes this call, said Costa.

Anthony Shaffer, a retired US Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who directed several major intelligence operations in the Middle East, told CNN,” My recommendation has always been that they should be a terrorist group,” Shaffer’s book “Dark Heart” describes his experience directly encountering the IRGC funding terrorist efforts in Eastern Afghanistan. “I don’t see how there’s any downside,” he continued.

But if the US takes this unique step, labeling the military branch a terrorist group, it runs the risk of making the IRGC a “hero in the eyes of probably most Iranians for ‘resistance’,” said James Durso, a former US Navy officer and staff member on the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the move would likely be “symbolic” at this point, “if we designate the entire IRGC, that’s another 120,000 ‘terrorists’ we will have to track,” he said. “We will have normal relations with Iran someday, so let’s not make 120,000 more future enemies unless there’s a real benefit.”


#MICHIGAN: Help Patrick Colbeck Defeat Abdul al-Sayed, who said ‘You may not hate Muslims but Muslims definitely hate you!’

By: Renee Nal | New Zeal

Abdul El-Sayed and Patrick Colbeck (right)

Michigan voters may remember when gubernatorial candidate Abdul al-Sayed said to his Republican opponent: ‘You may not hate Muslims but Muslims definitely hate you!’ That opponent is Patrick Colbeck, and he is being supported by Trevor Loudon, Philip Haney and others who are holding a fundraising webinar for him on July 9, 2018.

Patrick Colbeck has been raked across the coals for daring to mention Abdul al-Sayed’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Revealingly, al-Sayed has not addressed these concerns, opting to ignore the charge and paint Patrick Colbeck as anti-Muslim.

Abdul El-Sayed is the epitome of the Red/Green Axis, espousing radical leftist views while being a Muslim, a combination that seems incompatible, but actually is very compatible if the goal is to fundamentally transform America. If you are interested in learning more, scroll all the way to the bottom of this post and watch Trevor Loudon’s mini documentary film: Soviet Islam.

Watch this exchange:

Abdul al-Sayed comes from a very political Muslim background and holds extreme leftist views. It is no secret that El-Sayed was vice-president of the Muslim Student Association, an organization specifically identified as one of those belonging to, or friends of, the Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps Abdul al-Sayed, whose father was born in Egypt, was unaware of this connection.

Abdul al-Sayed’s father-in-law Dr. Jakaku Tayeb, is the former president and current board member of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and a member of the founders committee for the Muslim Brotherhood-front group Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). CAIR also has deep connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the head of CAIR Nihad Awad has claimed his public support of the terrorist group HAMAS.

Just two days ago, al-Sayed tweeted that he was “proud” to have been endorsed by Marxist Democratic Socialist of America member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won her bid in the New York primary against incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in the 14th congressional district.

There are many other tweets between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abdul El-Sayed, an illustration of his radical policies, which by their nature, would raise taxes substantially in Michigan. He wants $15 minimum wage, Single Payer healthcare, universal Pre-K, free college, gun control – including banning the AR-15, which he refers to as a “weapon of war,” massive infrastructure spending, and a “state-operated internet service provider.”

Watch Abdul El-Sayed on CNN:

Some other revealing tweets:

Abdul El-Sayed has attacked Patrick Colbeck for having “Islamophobia,” but he has not addressed Colbeck’s concerns about having connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“What frustrates me more is not that you have blatant racism on the part of certain people, but what frustrates me more is in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, is not when bad people speak out but when good people fail to speak out, and what I have not heard is the Republicans on this panel, decisively and swiftly call out this kind of Islamophobia, this kind of racism, in the context that they are wanting to represent the state that has the highest per-capita number of Muslim Americans in the country. Now you may not hate Muslims, but I’ll tell you, Muslims definitely hate you!”

Watch the full 6-minute exchange between Colbeck and Sayed in the video below:

Register for Patrick Colbeck’s Fund Raising Webinar:

Fund Raiser Webinar: Monday, July 9th, 8pm Eastern Time
REGISTER here by 5pm ET, July 9th: https://tinyurl.com/y8d3cxd2


WATCH Trevor Loudon’s “America Under Siege: Soviet Islam”:


Smart TV’s vs. Your Privacy

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

It is all getting quite tiresome.It is a cyber war you are in and you don’t know it.

There is Facebook sharing your data with foreign entities and governments. Then the NSA announced it was deleting 685 million personal records.

Then it was Siri and Alexa. Then we are told that Google is reading your Gmail. And Google defends the practice.

Smart TVs Are Spying On You

If you watch television on an internet-connected TV, it may be watching you back.

Data-slurpers: The New York Times took a close look at the rise of services that track viewers’ watching habits—in particular Samba TV, which has claimed to gather second-by-second information from software on 13.5 million smart TVs in the US.

Been here before: Last year, the Federal Trade Commission fined Vizio for $2.2 million over a similar issue. But that was because Vizio sold its data to third parties without users’ consent. Samba pays TV manufacturers like Sony and Philips to carry its software, but doesn’t sell its data. Instead, Samba uses it to sell targeted ads.

Why it matters: You may rip your TV’s plug out of the wall in horror. Or you may not care (Samba TV has said that 90 percent of users agree to turn the service on). Either way, this kind of thing could be going on in your living room—and the companies behind it aren’t exactly going out of their way to let you know about it.

*** The New York Times was not the most recent reporting of this. In fact, several media outlets sounded the alarm back in 2017.

The Federal Trade Commission said Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers. The television maker agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a case with the FTC and the New Jersey attorney general’s office after the agencies accused it of secretly collecting — and selling — data about its customers’ locations, demographics and viewing habits.

With the advent of “smart” appliances, customers and consumer advocates have raised concerns about whether the devices could be sending sensitive information back to their manufacturers. The FTC says the Vizio case shows how a television or other appliance might be telling companies more than their owners are willing to share.

“Before a company pulls up a chair next to you and starts taking careful notes on everything you watch (and then shares it with its partners), it should ask if that’s O.K. with you,” Kevin Moriarty, an attorney with the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, wrote in a blog post. “Vizio wasn’t doing that, and the FTC stepped in.”

As part of the settlement, Vizio neither confirmed nor denied wrongdoing.

“Today, the FTC has made clear that all smart-TV makers should get people’s consent before collecting and sharing television viewing information, and Vizio now is leading the way,” Vizio’s general counsel, Jerry Huang, said of the settlement.

Although some consumers might not recognize the name Vizio, most have probably watched something on a Vizio television. The Irvine, Calif.-based firm, which Chinese firm LeEco recently announced it would buy, is the most popular TV maker in the United States. With 20 percent of the U.S. market, it made about 1 in 5 TVs sold here in 2016. LeEco has broad ambitions in the consumer space, with businesses that also produce a Netflix-style media service, smartphones and even cars.

According to the lawsuit, Vizio was literally watching its watchers — capturing “second-by-second information” about what people viewed on its smart TVs. That included data from cable, broadband, set-top boxes, over-the-air broadcasts, DVDs and streaming devices. Vizio also is accused of linking demographic information to the data and selling the data — including users’ sex, age and income — to companies that do targeted advertising.

Vizio said in its statement that it never paired viewing information with data that identified individual users but used viewing data only in “the ‘aggregate’ to create summary reports measuring viewing audiences or behaviors.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered Vizio to pay $1.5 million to the FTC and $1 million to the New Jersey attorney general’s office; Vizio won’t have to pay $300,000 of that unless it violates the order in the future.

The part of the settlement paid to the FTC reflects the amount that Vizio probably made from collecting and selling the customer information. Vizio will delete all the data it collected through the feature before March 2016. It must also prominently display its data collection and privacy policies to consumers and create a program to make sure its partners follow those policies.