Iran has its own Special Forces, the secretive al Quds Force, which
belongs to the IRGC (the Iranian Republican Guard Corps.) Also known as the
Pasdaran, the IRGC is a paramilitary force of about 100,000 full timers
that insures that any anti-government activity is quickly eliminated. To assist
the Pasdaran, there is a part-time, volunteer force, several hundred thousand
Basej, which can provide additional manpower when street muscle is required.
The Basej are usually young, Islamic conservative men, who are not afraid to
get their hands dirty. If opponents to the government stage a large
demonstration, it will often be broken up by Basej, in civilian clubs, using
fists and clubs.
Quds Force is a full time operation, of men trained to spread the Islamic
revolution outside Iran. The Quds force has a major problem in that they are
spreading a Shia Islamic revolution, while only 15 percent of Moslems are Shia.
Most of the rest are Sunni, and many of those consider Shia heretics. In
several countries, there is constant violence between Shia and Sunni conservatives.
This has been going on long before the clerics took control of Iran in 1979 (
al Qaeda showed up in the 1990s).
core operatives of the Quds force comprises only a few thousand people. But
many of them are highly educated, most speak foreign languages, and all are
Islamic radicals. They are on a mission from God to convert the world to Shia
Islam, and the rule of Shia clergy. The Quds Force has been around since the
1980s, and their biggest success has been in Lebanon, where they helped local Shia
(who comprise about a third of the population) form the Hizbollah
Quds Force has eight departments, each assigned to a different part of the
world. While the one that works in the Palestine/Lebanon/Jordan area have been
the most successful, the other departments have been hard at it for two
Western Directorate has established a recruiting and fund raising network in
Western nations. Many recruits are brought back to Iran for training, while
Shia migrants are encouraged to donate money, and services, to Quds Force
operations. Because many of these operations are considered terrorist
operations, Quds Force is banned in many Western nations.
Iraq Department long maintained an army of anti-Saddam fighters in exile (in Iran)
as well as running an intelligence operation inside Iraq. After the coalition
toppled Saddam in 2003, Quds Force moved people, money and weapons into Iraq,
to form pro-Iranian political forces and militias.
South Asia Department (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India) was active in aiding
Afghan Shia who were being persecuted by the Taliban (a Sunni operation) and al
Qaeda (a very Sunni operation). Quds has also been caught operating in
Pakistan, where Sunni terrorists have been attacking Shia for decades.
Turkey Department has been active encouraging Shia Kurds to commit terrorist
North Africa Department has an operation in Sudan, that functions in the open,
despite the Sunni conservatives who run the country. This department was recently
caught providing weapons to the Sunni Islamic Courts militia in Somalia.
Arabian Department supports terrorist groups that exist in all the Persian Gulf
Arab countries. The Arab Sunni governments in these nations does not appreciate
Iran's support for this sort of thing.
Central Asian Department supports Shia and Sunni terrorists in countries that
used to be part of the Soviet Union. So does al Qaeda, but the Quds operation
has been more discreet.
in Iran, Quds is believed to provide safe houses for al Qaeda leaders, even
though al Qaeda has taken part in many atrocities against Shia outside Iran.
However, the "enemy of my enemy is my friend." Actually, there is a
major dispute in the Iranian government over the al Qaeda issue. But the Iranian
leadership is more a federation than a dictatorship, so Quds can keep being
nice to al Qaeda as long as not too many factions get mad at Quds.
Iranian leadership, despite their radical sounding pronouncements, have
actually been quite cautious. This is in line with ancient Iranian custom. Most
of the Hizbollah violence in Lebanon was at the behest of Lebanese. The same
pattern has occurred elsewhere. The Quds guys usually counsel restraint,
although in Iraq there has been more enthusiasm for violence. Iraq is a special
case, as several hundred thousand Iranians died fighting Saddam in the 1980s,
and Iranians have not forgotten.