About the Quds Force

The Quds Force is charged with the task of spearheading the expansion of the Islamic revolution beyond Iran, which in a substantive way it does through terror and subversive activity overseas. It is an elite wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) owing to the sensitive nature of its activities abroad. The IRGC in turn has a separate armed forces, air force, navy and intelligence arm.

Established after the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the Quds Force received an official mandate to deal with various covert, strategic-operational and military affairs:

  • "Exporting the revolution" and the Islamic theocracy's ideology, while assisting various actors whose interests are aligned with theirs.
  • "Special operations" (terror, weapons transfers, political subversion)
  • Intelligence collection outside Iran

The Quds Force is today comprised of about 12,000 operatives. It receives extensive resources from the Iranian state to carry out its missions all over the world.  A particular emphasis is paid to Muslim countries with large Shiite communities as well as to states ruled by Sunni regimes where in most cases Shia form a minority of the overall population.

The chief commander of the Quds Force over the last fifteen years has been Qassem Suleimani. Suleimani authorizes the organization's activities including all of the terror attacks it pursues around the world and the strategic-military support it provides to partners and proxies of the Iranian regime.

The headquarters of the Quds Force is the central hub for coordinating and controlling the Force's operational and intelligence-collection activity abroad. It has a special status within the Iranian regime, and its top commanders have direct access to the Supreme Leader. In this way, the Quds Force is able to discreetly carry out sensitive and subversive missions in other countries without having to pass through the state bureaucracy. Often just a handful of people in the Iranian leadership are aware of action being undertaken by the Force, which is ultimately dictated by the Supreme Leader.

The Quds Force has been involved in political processes in countries from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan. The tools it uses to apply pressure and implement the Supreme Leader's policies invariably include covert military activity and financial support to individuals and militia groups that the regime wants to strengthen.