Labour will ‘amend terror legislation’ to ban Iran’s ‘hostile’ IRGC, says Cooper

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Labour will ‘amend terror legislation’ to ban Iran’s ‘hostile’ IRGC, says Cooper

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper used a speech at Royal United Services Institute to warn UK faces 'continued challenges from Islamist and far right extremists, radicalised online, in prison or in the community'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper has confirmed a Labour government would amend current terror legislation to “ban hostile state-sponsored organisations who are undermining our national security” including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

In a speech outlining her party’s approach to national security ahead of the next election, the shadow home secretary also warned the UK faces he UK faces “continued challenges from Islamist and far right extremists, radicalised online, in prison or in the community. ”

In criticism of the government’s online safety bill legislation, which aimed to tackle the rise of antisemitic hate, Cooper said:”We can’t tackle online radicalisation without stronger action from social media companies.”

Cooper’s speech, delivered at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday, was critical of what she said was the government’s failure to use counter terror laws to proscribe groups like the IRGC and Russia’s Wagner group.

An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps soldier flashes a Victory sign during Tehran’s ‘Jerusalem Day’ rally last month (Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto)

Communal leaders have been among those backing calls for the IRGC to be fully proscribed, pointing to the terror group’s threats and actions against Israelis and exiled Iranians.

“Instead of trying and failing to use counter terror legislation to proscribe groups like Wagner or IRGC, we’ll introduce a bespoke proscribing mechanism to address state sponsored threats,” said Cooper.

“We will work with the public and private sector, businesses, universities, and partners here and abroad, to ensure this strategy is comprehensive, collaborative and fit for the scale of the challenges we face.”
Cooper noted “the persecution of Iranian journalists by the IRGC – including 15 threats to kidnap or kill on British soil.”

Labour’s message on the Iranian’s state backed terror group comes just days after foreign secretary James Cleverly said the government believed a new sanctions regime give the UK greater powers to target Iranian “decision makers”. But this meant they had once again ignored calls for proscription of the IRGC.

She also referred to the way the social media platform 4Chan allowed users to appropriate “a Meta large language model, deliberately creating extreme right-wing chatbots to promote radicalisation.”

Cooper said Labour were working on ways to respond to proliferation of far-right extremism on 4Chan and preventing AI from being used as a recruiting tool for extremists.  

In a deliberate attempt to show how Labour had changed under Keir Starmer’s leadership, Cooper added:” “When Britain faced an attack on our soil in Salisbury in 2018, we made clear at the time I thought that Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader was wrong to prevaricate over Russia’s responsibility.”

She also said:”I was also appalled by the carelessness and contempt for national security that former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed while Foreign Secretary at the height of the Skripal crisis, meeting alone with an ex-KBG officer, on the way back from a NATO summit on Russia, failing to even properly report it and claiming he could not even remember whether Government business had been discussed. ”

Cooper’s speech came as the new register of MPs interests revealed her office had received a £210,000 donation from Gary Lubner, the former Autoglass chief executive, who is set to donated around £5million to Labour ahead of the next election.

South-African born Lubner, who has long been involved with Jewish charities such as UJIA, has donated the money to Cooper’s office “to pay for three additional members of staff”  for her office “over the next eighteen months” parliament’s register of member’s financial interest confirms.

The Board of Deputies commended Cooper on the announcement on the IRGC saying in a statement: “The far-reaching influence of the IRGC poses a significant threat to our community, to wider British society, and the people of Iran itself.”

Labour Friends of Israel director Michael Rubin said:”Labour is absolutely right to recognise the threat the IRGC poses to the Iranian people, the wider region and the UK.

“Sadly, by failing to immediately ban Iran’s ideological army, the government – which took years to fully proscribe Hezbollah – has once again been caught asleep at the wheel.

:A Labour government under Keir Starmer will be unflinching in tackling Tehran’s malicious activities, both in Europe and the Middle East.”

Claudia Mendoza, co-CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We are pleased that the Labour Party recognises the danger of its continued activity and welcome its pledge to proscribe it.”

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