On July 31, the State Department reported that Iran is the world’s “leading” state sponsor of terrorism. According to the Country Reports on Terrorism 2011, Tehran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force to support additional terrorist activities and “implement foreign policy goals.”
“We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities as they’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year,” said Ambassador Daniel Benjamin of the Counterterrorism Bureau. Iran expanded its illicit activities in South Asia and the Western Hemisphere. It also sponsored groups to fight U.S. forces and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The following is an excerpt from the Country Reports on Terrorism 2011.
Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran remained an active state sponsor of terrorism in 2011 and increased its terrorist-related activity, likely in an effort to exploit the uncertain political conditions resulting from the Arab Spring, as well as in response to perceived increasing external pressure on Tehran. Iran also continued to provide financial, material, and logistical support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran was known to use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and terrorist insurgent groups to implement its foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and support terrorist and militant groups. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.
In 2011, the United States discovered that elements of the Iranian regime had conceived
and funded a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C. Mansour Arbabsiar, an Iranian-born U.S. dual-national working on behalf of the IRGC-QF, was arrested in September 2011 for his role in the plot; also indicted in the case was an IRGC-QF officer who remains at large. Arbabsiar held several meetings with an associate whom Iranian officials believed was a narcotics cartel member. This associate, in fact, was a confidential source for U.S. law enforcement. The thwarted plot underscored anew Iran’s interest in using international terrorism – including in the United States – to further its foreign policy goals.
Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iran continued to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians. Iran was responsible for the increase of lethal attacks on U.S. forces and provided militants with the capability to assemble explosives designed to defeat armored vehicles. The IRGC-QF, in concert with Lebanese Hizballah, provided training outside bof Iraq as well as advisors inside Iraq for Shia militants in the construction and use of sophisticated improvised explosive device technology and other advanced weaponry.
Qods Force provided training to the Taliban in Afghanistan on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons, such as mortars, artillery, and rockets. Since 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives. Iran has shipped a large number of weapons to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in particular, aiming to increase its influence in this key province.
During the wave of pro-democracy demonstrations in Syria, Iran provided weapons and training to assist the Asad regime in its brutal crackdown that has resulted in the death of more than 5,000 civilians. Iran also continued to provide weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has assisted in rearming Hizballah, in direct violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of Hizballah fighters at camps in Iran.
In 2011, Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior AQ members it continued to detain, and refused to publicly identify those senior members in its custody. It also allowed AQ 173 members to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iranian territory, enabling AQ to carry funds and move facilitators and operatives to South Asia and elsewhere.
Since 2009, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has called for its members and the
international community to institute countermeasures to protect their respective financial sectors as well as the global financial system from the risks – in particular the terrorist financing threat – posed by Iran. In October 2011, the FATF strengthened its language and again called for countermeasures against Iran. Iran has had some limited engagement regarding anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance and has responded to overtures by multilateral entities such as the UN’s Global Programme against Money Laundering, but it has failed to criminalize terrorist financing and require that financial institutions and other obliged entities file suspicious transaction reports. It has not engaged with FATF and is not a member of a FATF-style regional body.
To read the full report, click here.