A bad actor in the Middle East was recently sanctioned by the United States: the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran’s primary intelligence organization, known as the MOIS.
MOIS was designated for three reasons, as the U.S. Treasury and State Departments explained in separate statements: the Intelligence Ministry’s support for terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas; its support for the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad in its brutal crackdown on the Syrian people; and for its central role in perpetrating human rights abuses against the citizens of Iran.
The Treasury Department noted that following the June 2009 elections in Iran, it was the MOIS which was responsible for the beatings, sexual abuse, prolonged interrogations and coerced confessions of political prisoners which occurred in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which the MOIS controls. The Treasury Department said the MOIS is known to have used abhorrent methods of interrogations like mock executions and sexual violence. It also noted that MOIS agents have arrested and detained members of the Baha’i religion without charges.
The United States has already designated individual Iranian officials for human rights abuses, and has previously sanctioned the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force and Law Enforcement Forces, the country’s national police, for supporting the Syrian regime’s attacks on Syrian protesters.
The sanctions mean that any property or property interests in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the MOIS has an interest are blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the MOIS. In addition, all members of the ministry are ineligible to receive visas from the State Department.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the sanctions against the MOIS expose its activities, and she encouraged “all our partners to take similar actions in response to the MOIS involvement in illicit conduct.”