Senior commanders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have tried to radicalise British university students with extreme antisemitic propaganda and calls for violence, it has been claimed.
Eight controversial armed forces chiefs gave speeches to Muslim students, urging them to support illegal attacks and venerate people who have carried out acts of violence, according to an investigation by the Jewish Chronicle. The paper claims the talks were hosted by the Islamic Students Association of Britain (ISA).
Recordings obtained by the paper are said to reveal that one commander claimed the Holocaust was “fake”, boasted of training al-Qaeda terrorists and urged listeners to join “the beautiful list of soldiers” who would fight and kill Jews in an apocalyptic war.
Another military leader allegedly claimed Jews “created homosexuality” and said students should “raise the flag of the Islamic Revolution, Islam and martyrdom” and see themselves as “holy warriors”, promising the “era of the Jews” would soon end.
The talks, which were live-streamed from Iran and viewed by tens of thousands of people, were from speakers who have played key roles in crushing of dissent in Iran, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
The allegations would mark the first time that IRGC commanders have been seen to play a direct role in disseminating regime propaganda in the UK.
In an online talk in 2021, one commander reportedly said that the Islamic State terror group was created by the “central headquarters of the Americans, British and the Jews, and deployed by the Saudis and the Zionists”.
Speaking about the Holocaust, he is quoted as saying: “The one that the Jews say happened is fake. The real Holocaust happened in my country in the First World War, 1917-19, when the UK occupied Iran.”
MPs and intelligence experts called for the government to ban the IRGC as a terrorist group, meaning that to organise such talks would be a criminal offence, although so far the Foreign Office is said to have resisted the idea.
The Islamic Students Association of Britain (ISA) has a network of branches across the UK, but its headquarters is at a converted Methodist church in Hammersmith, west London, just a mile from a synagogue.
Its former chair, Mohammad Hussain Ataee Dolat Abadi was granted a rare audience with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January, when the Iranian regime leader praised his activities, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
In response to the investigation, the ISA on Friday denied having any links to the IRGC and denied holding any “physical” meetings with the “falsely accused” people.
In a statement issued via the Union of Islamic Student Associations in Europe, Mohammad Hussain Ataee Dolat Abadi said: “Islamic Students Associations have never had any direct or indirect affiliation to the IRGC or any army, government or security group anywhere in the world and neither have I.
“Regarding recent accusations of meetings, Islamic Students Associations have never held any physical gathering/seminar/conference in Kanoon Towhid or anywhere else with any of the falsely accused individuals.”
Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, told the paper he hoped that MI5 was fully aware of the ISA and its “deeply troubling” activities.
He added: “The case for strong preventive action seems clear-cut. The IRGC should be a proscribed organisation under our counterterrorist legislation.”
Anthony Glees, emeritus professor of security and intelligence studies at Buckingham University, said he was astonished that the IRGC was beaming its toxic message to UK universities, saying it was a “perilous development that may well be damaging national security”. “America has proscribed these people and we should too,” he added.
Tory MP Alicia Kearns, chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, who has been demanding a ban on the IRGC for months, told the Jewish Chronicle: “To broadcast the jihadist and antisemitic ideas of senior members of the IRGC to students across Britain is a brazen act of radicalisation.
“We must pursue and prosecute those responsible trying to incite violence here in the UK.”
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “The invitation of IRGC commanders and other speakers who glorify its actions to speak to British students is incredibly concerning. Robust action is needed now.”
“It represents a threat to life and to the UK, and it’s time to get the Foreign Office to act to stop this happening,” he said.
The Independent has asked ISA for further comment.