This report is based on an original article published in The Sunday Times.

British security services are facing a complex challenge as Iran’s influence in the UK appears to be on the rise. This influence manifests in two key ways: through the activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the powerful military wing of the Iranian regime, and through a network of seemingly benign organizations with close ties to Tehran.

The IRGC has become a focal point of concern. Accused of plotting assassinations and kidnappings on British soil, the organization is seen as a direct threat to national security. Ken McCallum, the Director-General of MI5, has placed Iran alongside Russia and China as a top security threat. Proponents of proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organization argue it would disrupt their operations and deter potential collaborators. However, the UK government hesitates due to the need to maintain diplomatic channels with Iran.

Beyond overt threats, Iran is also adept at wielding “soft power” to influence British society. A network of charities, cultural centers, and even some media outlets suspected of having links to the Iranian regime operate across the UK. These organizations often promote a specific viewpoint that aligns with Tehran’s interests.

One such group under scrutiny is the Islamic Centre of England (ICE). Described as the “London office” of the IRGC by some lawmakers, ICE is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission, a government watchdog that regulates charities. The Commission is examining concerns about ICE’s governance and potential links to extremism.

Another example is the Islamic Cultural Centre in Manchester. Here, a former director reportedly boasted about attending an award ceremony in Iran for “best soft war” officers, raising questions about the center’s true mission.

The impact of Iran’s influence campaign is felt across British society. Some reports suggest Iranian efforts may contribute to social tensions. For instance, protests surrounding the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad or a controversial film about a religious figure are seen by some as partly fueled by Iranian agitation. Additionally, Iranian state media outlets, despite facing broadcasting restrictions, use social media platforms to reach British audiences and promote narratives that align with the regime’s agenda.
Key Takeaways

Iran’s influence in the UK is a growing concern, with the IRGC’s activities and a network of seemingly benign organizations suspected of regime ties being key areas of focus.
The IRGC is accused of plotting assassinations and kidnappings, while organizations like the Islamic Centre of England (ICE) are under investigation for potential links to extremism.
Iran’s “soft power” efforts are seen as contributing to social tensions in the UK, with concerns about protests and the influence of Iranian state media being raised.
British authorities face a complex challenge in countering Iran’s influence while maintaining diplomatic channels.

Source » irannewsupdate