US Treasury on January 24 designated the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division and the Pakistani Zeynabiyoun Brigade, which are led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), pursuant to counter-terrorism and human-rights-abuses designations. Treasury also designated a commercial airline that ferries weapons to Syria. Criticizing the US, the Shiite-Islamist militias emphasized that they are part of the IRGC-led transnational militant network, pledged to keep fighting, but stopped short of directly threatening the US.

On January 26, IRGC-linked news agencies circulated the reaction of the Fatemiyoun Division, followed by the Zeynabiyoun Brigade four days later. Rejecting the terrorism charge, the Fatemiyoun accused the US of supporting “terrorist” groups including the Islamic State, and vowed to continue its fight until uprooting “terrorism” and the “destruction” of Israel. The Zeynabiyoun promised that the terror designation would “strengthen the unity of the Islamic front.”

The Zeynabiyoun Brigade calls its militiamen “inheritors of the red school of Hossein,” referring to the third Shiite Imam Hossein, and “Shiite Pakistani youth” who “obey the guardianship of the jurisconsult, and are inspired by Imam Khomeini’s great spirit, and martyr Arif Hosseini’s allegiance to the jurisconsult.” Husayni was a follower of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who preached Khomeini’s brand of Islamic revolution in Pakistan, and was assassinated in 1988. The statement also praised the “steadfastness” of Pakistan’s founder Mohamad-Ali Jinnah and the “mysticism” of poet Mohamad Iqbal.

The US has taken a series of financial actions against the IRGC, including Qods Force counterfeit cash operation and currency exchange network, and a network supporting the IRGC Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed, also known as the Basij paramilitary. Further US actions against the Afghan and Pakistani militias remain to be seen.  

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