IRGC Helps "Latin Americans" Establish Basij Force

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Jan 11, 2017
IRGC Helps "Latin Americans" Establish Basij Force

In the latest indication of Iran’s efforts to expand its ideological and political influence in parts of Latin America, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has revealed that it provides training to Latin Americans in how to create and utilize the Iranian model of paramilitary Basij Force.

“A team from Latin America came to our country to receive training in how to establish the Basij,” said Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of IRGC’s cultural and social affairs, on January 9. He added that the trainees “gravitated toward Islam and were commending Iran’s resistance and achievements.”

In the past, Naqdi has reportedly helped Venezuela’s Ministries of Defense and Interior in training their notorious civilian militias, known as the colectivos’. In 2015, Fox News released Naqdi’s photos at a 2009 meeting with Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez in Caracas.

The Islamic Republic’s founder Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established the Basij Force after the 1979 revolution. It has presence in all Iranian provinces, advancing the regime’s ideological and political agenda. Members of the organization, which is now under the IRGC’s leadership, function as religious activists, aid workers, intelligence agents, moral police, and more. Basijis are well trained in how to quell riots and suppress uprisings. It played an instrumental role in the bloody regime crackdown against the Green Movement protests that shook Iran after the 2009 controversial presidential elections. Last month, Iran’s Supreme Leader appointed Gholamhossein Ghaibparvar as the new commander of the Basij.

Recently, the Basij Force has also actively recruited “volunteers” inside Iran to fight in Syria. The IRGC has also emulated the success of the Basij to mobilize Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi and Lebanese Shiites to fight for Iran’s interests in the Arab world. Last year, IRGC’s elite Quds Force commander, Qassem Suleimani, bragged that Basij forces had been instrumental in exporting Iranian revolution across the region. “Islamic movements such as Hezbollah of Lebanon and Palestinian Hamas received inspiration and spiritual aid from Basij. This is why Iran’s flag would fly in those countries.”