Businesses related to Iran’s Basij militia have been hit with sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department after learning about practices to recruit child soldiers.
The U.S. Department of Treasury stated: “Among other malign activities, the IRGC’s [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] Basij militia recruits, trains, and deploys child soldiers to fight in IRGC-fueled conflicts across the region.”
The Basij is a paramilitary group that was originally made up of soldiers who were either too young or too old to join the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps).
Particularly inciting was a 2017 broadcast by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting news agency featuring a 13-year-old who appears as a member of the Basij group going to Syria.
The sanctions are on Bonyad Taavon Basij (the Basij Cooperative Foundation), which, the Treasury Department said, is a network of “at least 20 corporations and financial institutions” that “employs shell companies and other measures to mask Basij ownership and control over a variety of multibillion-dollar business interests in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries, many of which have significant international dealings across the Middle East and with Europe.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin remarked: “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.”