“The Iranian regime and its proxies continued to plot and commit terrorist attacks on a global scale.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the “world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism,” the U.S. State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism declared. Tehran was “directly involved in plotting terrorism” though its armed wing, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC and other state-controlled agencies, and had carried out terrorist “plots in recent years in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa,” found the counter-terrorism report released on June 24.
Identifying IRGC and Lebanon-based Iran-sponsored terrorist group Hisbollah as leading actors in the regime’s global terrorism network, the report highlighted Tehran’s terrorist footprint in Europe. “Iranian government continued supporting terrorist plots to attack Iranian dissidents in several countries in continental Europe,” the report said.
In April 2019, President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, calling it “Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.” The IRGC, which acts as the military wing of the Iranian regime, owns the country’s oil assets, banks, and airlines. Tehran uses the organization to crush democratic dissent at home and to carry out terrorist operations abroad.
In a major blow to Iran’s global terrorist operations, a U.S. airstrike in early January eliminated Qassem Soleimani, the chief of IRGC’s Qods Force. Soleimani was directly responsible for the killing of hundreds of American servicemen stationed in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department confirmed.
“We designated the IRGC, including its Qods Force, as a terrorist organization, the first time the authority has ever been used on a foreign government,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said while releasing the report at a press event on Wednesday.
Following are the excerpts from the State Department’s ‘Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 report’ released this week (See the full report here):
The Iranian regime and its proxies continued to plot and commit terrorist attacks on a global scale. In the past, Tehran has spent as much as $700 million per year to support terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, though its ability to provide financial support in 2019 was constrained by crippling U.S. sanctions. The regime was directly involved in plotting terrorism through its IRGC and Ministry of Intelligence and Security, including plots in recent years in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Tehran also continued to permit an al-Qa’ida (AQ) facilitation network to operate in Iran, sending money and fighters to conflict zones in Afghanistan and Syria, and it still allowed AQ members to reside in the country. Finally, the Iranian regime continued to foment violence, both directly and through proxies, in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. (….)
Iran continued to use its IRGC-QF [regime’s foreign terrorism arm, the Qods Force] to advance its interests abroad, providing cover for intelligence operations, creating instability, and fomenting violence in the Middle East. In April, the U.S. Secretary of State designated the IRGC, including the Qods Force, as an FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organization] for the IRGC’s continued support to and engagement in terrorist activity around the world. This was the first time the United States ever designated part of another government as an FTO, reflecting that the Iranian regime is unique in using terrorism as a basic tool of its statecraft. (….)
In 2019, Iran supported various Iraqi Shia terrorist groups, including Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), Harakat al-Nujaba, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. During the same period, KH was responsible for a series of rocket attacks against American interests in Iraq, which culminated in the death of an American citizen following a 30 plus rocket barrage in December 2019. (…)
Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has supplied Hizballah with thousands of rockets, missiles, and small arms in direct violation of UNSCR 1701 [UN Security Council resolution] . Israeli security officials and politicians expressed concerns that Iran was supplying Hizballah with advanced weapons systems and technologies, as well as assisting the group in creating infrastructure that would permit it to indigenously produce rockets and missiles to threaten Israel from Lebanon and Syria. (…)
In 2019, Iran provided support to Hamas and other designated Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. These Palestinian terrorist groups were behind numerous deadly attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank, including attacks against Israeli civilians in the Sinai Peninsula. (…)
The Iranian government maintains a robust offensive cyber program and has sponsored cyber attacks against foreign government and private sector entities.
As in past years, the Iranian government continued supporting terrorist plots to attack Iranian dissidents in several countries in continental Europe. In recent years, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Albania have all either arrested or expelled Iranian government officials implicated in various terrorist plots in their respective territories. Denmark similarly recalled its ambassador from Tehran after learning of an Iran-backed plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident in its country.
Largely due to Trump administration pressure, Germany and the United Kingdom imposed a complete ban on Hisbollah terrorist group. The European Union continues to ‘engage’ with the Iran-backed terrorist group, allowing it to operate under the garb of ‘political wing.’
“Terror group relies on European recruiting and fundraising networks to survive,” Richard Grenell, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Germany, said January.
The report also exposes Iran’s Shia-Islamic regime’s support for the Sunni terrorist group al-Qaida “Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria,” the State Department report said.
The reinstating of U.S. sanctions on Tehran have been the biggest factor in crippling the regime’s ability to fund and arm its global terrorist network. With oil revenues drying up, the regime has been forced to cut aid to Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Islamic terrorist groups.
Many in the Iranian regime are hoping to ‘wait out’ President Trump’s tenure, looking forward of a favorable Democrat-led White House in 2020, Western intelligence reports suggest. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who admittedly met top Iranian officials, may also have been giving similar advice to Tehran. When asked about what he had been telling the Iranian officials, Kerry quipped in September 2018 that “everybody in the world is talking about waiting out President Trump.”
‘Pompeo stresses importance of Arms Embargo expiring on Iran’ (June 24)
[Cover image via YouTube]
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