Terrorism Profiles

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force (QF)

Alternative Names:

IRGC-QF, QF, Al Quds, Quds Force, Qods Force, Niru-ye Qods, Sepah-e Qods, Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Islami (Pasdaran), Qods Corps, Jerusalem Corps, Jerusalem Force

Location:

Iran, Worldwide

Leadership:

The Qods Force (QF), a special forces unit within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. The unit is operationally commanded by Major General Qasem Soleimani. QF is active on a global scale and is organized into geographic areas of responsibility.

Membership:

While QF’s size remains officially classified, informed sources claim that QF consists of at least 15,000 operatives.

Funding Sources:

QF’s extraterritorial activities are allegedly financed through a series of foreign-based shell companies that may either be affiliated with QF through Iranian interests or directly owned by QF. Once finances are received into the accounts of such shell companies, QF can access them to support and carry out various in-country operations.

Origins:

QF was formed during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) as a special forces unit within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. QF supported Kurdish fighters in their struggle against Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime in Iraq and supported the Northern Alliance in their struggle against the Taliban government of Afghanistan.

Major Attacks:

QF provides arms, funding, and paramilitary training to extremist groups such as the Taliban, Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Shiite militias in Iraq, and Houthi rebels in Yemen.

QF has been implicated in a series of highly-sophisticated transgressions against Western diplomatic and security personnel in the Middle East.

January 2007: Insurgents allegedly supported by QF infiltrated the Karabala Provincial Headquarters in Iraq, capturing and killing four U.S. soldiers and wounding another three in a grenade attack. The insurgents allegedly infiltrated the headquarters by passing as U.S. military personnel. The insurgents drove GMC suburbans – the type used to transport U.S. diplomatic personnel – carried forged identification, wore U.S. military fatigues, carried American standard-issue small arms, and spoke English. It is believed that an operation of this sophistication could not have been undertaken without the assistance of QF.

October 2011: QF was implicated in a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir, as well as bomb Israeli and Saudi diplomatic missions in Washington D.C.

Ideological Roots:

Members of QF are chosen on the basis of their allegiance to the doctrine of the Islamic Revolution and to the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Objectives:

QF’s objectives are to support clandestine and paramilitary operations in the interests of the Iranian regime and those of its allies.

Tactics:

Human intelligence, sabotage, infiltration, bombings, kidnapping, assassination, and training and support.

Updated on January 7, 2016.

References


  1. “Iran’s Military Forces and Warfighting Capabilities.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. Last modified September, 2007. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://csis.org/publication/irans-military-forces-and-warfighting-capabilities
  2. “Case Study: Iranian Illicit Financing for Quds Force’s Overseas Purchases.” Institute for Science and International Security. Last modified December, 2014. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/case-study-iranian-illicit-financing-for-quds-forces-overseas-purchases/
  3. “Quds Force (IRGC).” Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Last modified 2015. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/quds-force-irgc
  4. “Currently Listed Entities.” Public Safety Canada. Last modified November, 2014. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2031
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