US ‘foreign terrorist’ designation is more punishment than threat detector

The Trump administration in April designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran, a branch of Iran’s military and intelligence services, as a terrorist group. Any groups designated this way are cut off from potential U.S. funding, communications with Americans, travel to the U.S. and other American “material support.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political party founded on Islamic ideals, may be next.

The IRGC is the first government agency to receive such a designation, which calls attention to the political purposes that often prompts additions and removals from the list. Since its creation in 1997, the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list has been used to punish enemies, appease allies and advance discrete U.S. foreign policy interests.