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State Dept. says Iran #1 state sponsor of terror with ‘near-global reach’

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the release of the 2017 International Religious Freedom Report, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 29, 2018. (State Department/Released)
September 20, 2018

The State Department said this week that terrorism across the world has decreased, but Iran’s global reach of terrorism remains a threat.

A report released by the State Department on Wednesday pointed to Iran as the leading foreign government that backs terrorism, which maintains a “near-global reach,” and is potentially involved in sending terror operatives to the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The newly released Country Reports on Terrorism for 2017 discussed an overall decline in terror attacks, but detailed the persisting threats of Iran and ISIS.

“Iran remained the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and continued to support attacks against Israel. It maintained its terrorist-related and destabilizing activities through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force and the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah,” the report said.

It outlined Iran’s efforts, including the undermining of U.S. efforts, supporting Assad’s regime in Syria, and expanding Shia militias across the Middle East.

“Beyond the Middle East, Iran and its terrorist affiliates and proxies posed a significant threat and demonstrated a near-global terrorist reach,” the report said.

The report noted that Iran’s reach has stretched into the U.S.

“In June 2017, the FBI arrested two suspected Hezbollah operatives in Michigan and New York who allegedly were conducting surveillance and intelligence gathering on behalf of the organization, including in the United States,” the report explained.

Iran, however, criticized the report.

Iran’s Mission to the U.N. released a statement, saying, ‘‘Iran has fought ISIS, Al Qaeda, their various associate and affiliated terror groups, and other terrorist groups in our region for decades. The U.S., meanwhile, has destabilized the region at every turn,” as reported by the Washington Post.

The State Department report cites numerous successes made by the U.S. and global allies in combatting terrorism, including the liberation of almost all ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria, reduced Hezbollah efforts in Lebanon, the Middle East and elsewhere, and a higher pressure campaign against Al Qaeda.

“Despite our successes, the terrorist landscape grew more complex in 2017,” the report noted. “ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have proven to be resilient, determined, and adaptable, and they have adjusted to heightened counterterrorism pressure in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere.”

This challenge is evident in the increase of terror-related deaths in Afghanistan, where the U.S. has ramped up its efforts against the Taliban, compared to the previous year. Reported deaths in Iraq saw a slight decline, which is attributed to the U.S.-led Coalition’s effort in taking territory from ISIS.

In contrast, the top 10 nations with the highest rates of terror attacks saw a decrease of approximately 7,000 in terror-related deaths from 2016.