IRGC flag displayed at London anti-Israel rally
The Iranian news agency Mehr News has released a short video showing a flag of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) being displayed during a London anti-Israel demonstration on 22 May. The IRGC was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US State Department in 2019. In December 2020, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee called on the British Government to also proscribe the IRGC.
In addition, a black and white flag of the Hashd Al-Sha’abi (also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, PMF) is visible in the video. The Hashd Al-Sha’abi, which was formed in 2014 during the conflict with Islamic State, is an Iraqi umbrella organisation comprised of 40 (mostly Shi’a) militia groups. The three main factions within Hashd Al-Sha’abi owe their allegiances to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and Muqtada al-Sadr.
In November 2020, Policy Exchange published a report about a car rally which took place through central London in support of Hashd Al-Sha’abi; several pro-Iranian groups reported and promoted the rally. The rally was promoted in advance by a popular Iraqi TV channel, affiliated with Kataib Hezbollah / Hizballah (KH), one of the core groups operating under the umbrella of the Hashd Al-Sha’abi. KH was designated by the US State Department in July 2009 as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, having been “responsible for numerous terrorist acts against Iraqi, U.S., and other targets in Iraq since 2007”. It is also believed to have been responsible for a March 2020 rocket attack in Iraq which killed a British soldier alongside two Americans.
In the video, a steward at the demonstration is seen wearing a Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) vest. Policy Exchange recently reported that FOA’s chairman Ismail Patel was among the speakers in an online conference which included Islamist figures and the UN Security Council-listed Iraqi terrorist Muthanna Harith Al-Dhari, head of the Political Department of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI).