The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made a move on Tuesday against a vast network of companies providing funding to the Basij Resistance Force (Basij), a paramilitary force subordinate to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Treasury announced that it had sanctioned the Bonyad Taavon Basij, (Basij Cooperative Foundation) which is made up of at least 20 companies and financial institutions.
“The Bonyad Taavon Basij network is an example of how the IRGC and Iranian military forces have expanded their economic involvement in major industries, and infiltrated seemingly legitimate businesses to fund terrorism and other malign activities. This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real world humanitarian consequences. This helps fuel the Iranian regime’s violent ambitions across the Middle East,” he added.
The OFAC said that as of Tuesday’s announcement, “all property and interests in property of these entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC,” adding that those who engage in certain transactions with entities that were sanctioned will also be designated.
The Treasury also emphasized on the use of child soldiers by the Basij.
It said that the Basij’s activities include indoctrinating schoolchildren and providing combat training to children as young as 12-years-old.
Since the Iran Iraq war, which lasted for 8 years in the 80’s, the Iranian government has been using child soldiers in war.
The children were encouraged to join the war through visits to schools and an intensive media campaign. The Basij employed human wave tactics which cleared minefields or drew the enemy’s fire.
The typical human wave tactic was for Basijis (often very lightly armed and unsupported by artillery or air power) to march forward in straight rows. Other children, wrapped in blankets, were used to clear minefields in what Iran called “Operation Ramadan.” They were promised “Paradise” in return.
According to a 1984 New York Times article, “Young boys, aged 12-17 years, wore red headbands with the words ‘Sar Allah’ in Farsi (Warriors of God) and small metal keys that the Ayatollah declared were their tickets to Paradise if they were martyred in their mission. Many were sent into battle against Iraqi tanks without any protection and bound by ropes to prevent desertion.
Iran officially announced that 224,000 soldiers were killed during the Iraq Iran war. If these numbers are real, it means that tens of thousands of children were killed in the war.
Nowadays, the regime is using Iranian children as so-called “Shrine Defenders” and Afghan immigrant children in the Fatemiyoun Brigade to fight in Syria.
In addition to its terrorist and warmongering activities abroad, the Basij is also active in suppressing dissent in Iran. The paramilitary force, which is despised by average Iranians, was actively engaged in the street suppression of the 2009 unrest in Iran and every single protest after that.