U.S President Joe Biden is reportedly set to cut five extremist groups from the U.S. government’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list — reportedly as a “rehearsal” for removing sanctions on Iran’s paramilitary IRGC.
According to Fox News, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a notification to Congress that the reason for removing the five groups is because each of the organizations is now defunct.
“The groups include Basque Fatherland and Liberty, also known as ETA; Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese doomsday cult; Kahane Kach, a radical Orthodox Jewish group, as well as two Islamic groups, the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, and Gama’a al-Islamiyya,” Fox News reported.
A senior public congressional aide who spoke to the network informed Fox that the Biden administration “dragged out briefings for this for months,” adding that it then “then went radio silent, then quietly rushed it through hoping no one would notice until it was a done deal.”
“Republicans on the Hill believe this was a dress rehearsal for trying to remove terrorism sanctions on the IRGC,” said the senior aide.
The move to remove the five groups from the list comes as Biden is reportedly making considerations to lift the foreign terrorist organization designation on Iran’s IRGC in exchange for a public commitment from Iran to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, Daily Wire reported.
“An agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal is nearly complete, but Iran’s demand that President Biden reverse Donald Trump’s decision to designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is a key remaining sticking point,” Axios reported.
“The IRGC is not only Iran’s most feared military branch, it’s also a powerful political and economic player,” the report said. “The terror designation means that even if Biden lifts nuclear sanctions to return to compliance with the deal, criminal penalties could still be imposed on anyone doing business with individuals or businesses connected to the IRGC.”
Biden’s move is raising concerns in Israel, which has expressed unease with the fact that the United States did not ask for specific commitments from Iran not to target the U.S. and its allies in the region.
As detailed by Daily Wire, several Biden administration negotiators working on the Iran Nuclear Deal have already quit their roles and criticized the administration for its weak stance on Iran.
At the start of his presidency in 2020, Joe Biden lifted the terrorist designation on the Yemeni Houthis — a move that has raised hackles in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which rejected calls from the U.S. president to discuss oil prices earlier this year.