US designates Qods Force counterfeit cash operation

The US Treasury Department yesterday designated an Iranian network that has procured “advanced equipment and materials to print counterfeit Yemeni bank notes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Qods Force. One of the four branches of the IRGC, the Qods Force is in charge of external operations. Treasury’s announcement answers an important question about at least one of force’s methods of financing its operations in Yemen.

Last year, the estimated cost of Iran’s Yemen portfolio was $25 million. Even if that amount quadrupled, it would still be a fraction of the estimated $15 billion Iran spends per year in Syria. The advanced counterfeit capability would permit Iran to sustain its operations in Yemen for years. Tehran’s bar for success is low in that war: it just has to continue supporting the Yemeni insurgency and bleed the Saudi-led coalition.

The US has sanctioned two Iranian nationals and four German and Iran-based companies. Reza Heidari, 40, used two German front companies to “deceive European suppliers, circumvent export restrictions, and acquire advanced printing machinery, security printing machinery, and raw materials” to support the Qods Force’s counterfeit capabilities. As of late 2016, he has been the managing director of Iran-based Rayan Printing. Heidari coordinated with Mahmoud Seif, in his 50s, who has been involved with the logistics of importing the material to Iran. Seif is the managing director of Tejarat Almas Mobin, the parent company of Rayan Printing. He previously ran guns for the Qods Force, according to Treasury.

The individuals and companies are designated for terrorism pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as well as for acting as agents of the IRGC pursuant to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulation. As a result, they are added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN); anyone that does business with these entities is at risk of fines and being blocked from the US financial system.

The Qods Force is designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, an authority applied to the IRGC in its entirety last month.

Update: the IRGC has four branches; the earlier version had stated five.

Amir Toumaj is a independent analyst and contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Wow….After I lost seven friends to the EFP (the Iranian’s IRGC’s favorite IED that can penetrate the Abrams tile-like plates of armor with ease), and in 2007, the new TF-17 (a multple element group of reg “vanilla” SEALs from Team 4 etc, a few Ranger comapnies, and some ODA–acronym for Special Forces/”Green beret” teams, tried to put an end to Shi’ite influence in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Iranian border in the North and then later in the South, was not able to target groups like HEZBOLLAH, they got CUT OFF AT THE KNEES BY MALIKI’S BULLSH-T BEING A SHIA HIMSELF! Point being, there was a disgusting beaurocracy in Baghdad etc that stopped us from what we should have been doing to this day….countering the Hez’s connections in Lebanon, Africa (the entire continent, really), and even Venezuela where I’ve personally seen them pop up selling HE devices in cigar boxes in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in ’09. THAT IS HOW CLOSE THEY GET TO THE U.S EVERY OTHER DAY….Some of those hicks forming border guard “militias” have been even killed by IRGC/Quds Force teams hiding in plain sight among Mexican “coyotes”/smugglers, hence why they caught most of the blame. WE SHOULD BE ATTACKING THEM AT EVERY CORNER USING THE SAME CUT-OUTS AND PROXIES WE SEE THEM USING….PERIOD

  • Mark says:

    On paper the sanctioning of IRGC and affiliated persons is reported in the vein of having teeth, i.e. the mere listing serves the deterant. Are we to believe listing is significantly effective? Or, simply feel good politics.

    Rarely, if ever does it appear that the intended repercussions of doing business with the IRGC triggers putative outcomes.

    Satistically, the long in place history of these sanctioned entities should be revealing measurable results of patterns.
    If not, and the issue is the hydra nature of shell companies, then why not affect a rewording of sanction laws to include provisions that place the burden on sanctioned countries.

    For example, Iran must place 100 billion in a trust if it wants to trade with world. And every time, a newly discovered entity is listed, the trust must forfeit 10 billion. The language should further stipulate that for every infraction that depletes the escrow ten times the amount fined needs to be added to the escrow.
    To establish the initial escrow in international sanction law make it mandatory that Iran must seed the escrow to be able sell its domestic energy output, or else Iran’s international energy trading partners will be added to USA financial restrictions as if they openingly violated existing sanction determinations.
    See how quickly that puts teeth into sanctions.


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