State Department: Iran Sponsors Terrorists Who Kill Americans
The State Department’s latest terrorism report makes it clear that Tehran sponsors terrorists targeting U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
9:00 PM, Aug 5, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The State Department has finally released its Country Reports on Terrorism for 2009. Foggy Bottom’s analysis, which details terrorist events in the previous calendar year, was supposed to be provided to Congress by April 30. But this year the report was not published until August. So, we are just now receiving the State Department’s report on terrorism for 2009.
As expected, Iran “remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism” in 2009. Most importantly, Tehran continues to sponsor terrorists who kill American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the State Department, Iran trains and arms the Taliban, does the same for Iraqi militants targeting U.S. forces, and provides safe haven for al Qaeda members.
Much of State’s reporting on Iran remained unchanged from the year before -- with one noteworthy difference. Only in its reporting on the relationship between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda did this year’s report differ from last year’s analysis.
Iran’s Qods Force, which is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is “the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad,” the State Department noted. Among other terrorist organizations, the Qods Force continues to support the Taliban. This year’s report reads:
This language is nearly identical to that which appeared in the report for 2008. What the State Department didn’t say is that Iran also allows the Taliban to move foreign fighters through Iran to Afghanistan, where they fight coalition forces. There is also evidence that the Iranians are helping the Taliban and al Qaeda execute suicide attacks by, among other things, providing explosives and other components used in suicide vests.
There was an interesting change in the State Department’s language regarding the nexus between Iran and al Qaeda. Here is how the State Department’s latest report describes the relationship (emphasis added):
Now, here is how the State Department summarized the relationship in its report on 2008 (emphasis added):
Both descriptions are incomplete and do not reflect the totality of collusion between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda. But at least last year’s report noted that Iran “continued to fail to control the activities of some al-Qa’ida members” – that is, they are allowed to operate on Iranian soil.
This year, the State Department dropped that language and only noted that some of Osama bin Laden’s family members are “under house arrest.”
Why did the State Department make this change? We do not know. We do know that the Iranians did not hold all of Osama bin Laden’s family members under house arrest. Saad bin Laden, for example, left Iran for northern Pakistan in late 2008. Moreover, al Qaeda members supposedly under “house arrest” in Iran have continued to operate, holding planning meetings and engaging in various other nefarious activities.
Notice that the State Department has avoided using the phrase “safe haven” in either analysis. But by refusing to identify, transfer, or “bring to justice” al Qaeda members, that is precisely what the Iranian regime is providing al Qaeda.
Finally, the State Department included a lengthy paragraph on Iran’s support for terrorists in Iraq. It is mostly unchanged from the year before (emphasis added):
There is one noteworthy change in the paragraph above from the version that appeared in last year's analysis. Last year, the State Department said that Iran was responsible for "some of the lethality of anti-Coalition attacks." This year's report says that Iran is "responsible for the increased lethality of some attacks on U.S. forces." It is not clear what was driving the word change. It is possible that the State Department just wanted to make this year's report more precise. The bottom line is this: Iran continues to sponsor terrorists who kill Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.