In 2015, Iran “increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia terrorist groups, including Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), which is a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, as part of an effort to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and bolster the Asad regime in Syria,” according to the newly released State Department annual report on terrorism. Iran also supported Hezbollah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
Iran, however, rejected the State Department’s findings. “While the US allies in the region are supporting Daesh [ISIS] and other terrorist groups through different methods, the Islamic Republic of Iran is in the frontline of fighting terrorism in Iraq and Syria,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said on June 4. The following are remarks by Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell with an excerpt from the report as well as a statement from Iran's foreign ministry.
Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell
“The United States continues to work to disrupt Iran’s support for terrorism. Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism globally. As explained in the report, Iran continues to provide support to Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Confronting Iran’s destabilizing activities and its support for terrorism was a key element of our expanded dialogue with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, following the leaders summit at Camp David in May of last year. We’ve also expanded our cooperation with partners in Europe, South America, and West Africa to develop and implement strategies to counter the activities of Iranian-allied and sponsored groups, such as Hizballah.”
—June 2, 2016, during a press briefing
Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2015, including support for Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. In 2015, Iran increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia terrorist groups, including Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), which is a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, as part of an effort to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and bolster the Asad regime in Syria. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.
Iran views the Asad regime in Syria as a crucial ally, a pillar in its “resistance” front together with sub-national groups aligned with Iran, and a key link to Hizballah, Iran’s primary beneficiary and terrorist partner. In addition to its ongoing support for Hizballah in Syria, Iran continued to provide arms, financing, training, and the facilitation of primarily Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani Shia fighters to support the Asad regime’s brutal crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of more than 250,000 people in Syria. Iran more openly acknowledged the deaths of Iranian personnel in Syria in 2015, including several senior commanders, and increased Iranian troop levels, while continuing to claim publicly that Iranian forces had only deployed in an advisory role.
In Iraq, Iranian combat forces employed rockets, artillery, and drones against ISIL. Iran also increased its arming and funding of Iraqi Shia terrorist groups in an effort to reverse ISIL gains in Iraq. Many of these groups, such as KH, have exacerbated sectarian tensions in Iraq and have committed serious human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians. The IRGC-QF, in concert with Hizballah, provided training outside of Iraq, as well as advisors inside Iraq for Shia militants in the construction and use of advanced weaponry. Similar to Hizballah fighters, many of these trained Shia militants have used these skills to fight for the Asad regime in Syria or against ISIL in Iraq.
Iran has also provided weapons, funding, and training to Shia militants in Bahrain. In 2015, the Government of Bahrain raided, interdicted, and rounded up numerous Iran-sponsored weapons caches, arms transfers, and militants. This includes the Bahraini government’s discovery of a bomb-making facility with 1.5 tons of high-grade explosives in September.
Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. These Palestinian terrorist groups have been behind a number of deaths from attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank. Although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war, both sides took steps in 2015 to repair relations. Iran continued to declare its vocal support for Palestinian terrorist groups and its hostility to Israel in 2015. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Admiral Ali Shamkhani sought to frame a series of individual Palestinian attacks on Israeli security forces in the West Bank as a new “Intifada” in a speech on November 25.
Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict in 2006, Iran has also assisted in rearming Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran. These trained fighters have used these skills in direct support of the Asad regime in Syria and, to a lesser extent, in support of operations against ISIL in Iraq. They have also carried out isolated attacks along the Lebanese border with Israel.
Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members it continued to detain and refused to publicly identify the members in its custody. Iran previously 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.
Click here for more information on the report.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari
1-Under the conditions that most of the people of the world and some American and western politicians regard the biggest supporters of terrorism if not the US government, but at least its close allies, the US department of state’s new report on terrorism has ridiculed blatant realities and has turned into the best document for lack of credibility of the US Department of State by justifying the false accusations of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s support for terrorism.
2-The legitimate and legal fights of the nations which are under the occupation to achieve independence, freedom and relief from occupation are not instances of terrorism and some part of the accusation of the report against Iran which is based on this is rejected and it reflects that will of the Zionist regime as the biggest symbol of occupation, state terrorism, violation of human rights and implementation of the policies based on massacre, suppression and denial of the existence of the Palestinian nation.
3-The US as the biggest supporter of the state terrorism, by unconditional support for the Zionist regime has imposed decades of deprivation from the basic rights and living in permanent horror to the under-occupation civilians of Palestine and now by practical support for the growth of extremism and terrorism as well as ignoring the large-scale financial and political support by Saudi Arabia and its other allies from the spread of this heinous phenomena throughout the world, has inflicted millions of Muslim nations from Yemen to Libya with suffering, horror, homelessness and the miserable life experience and has resulted in loss of life of a considerable number of the citizens of other countries in the terrorist operation as a result of the destructive consequences of such diplomacy.
4-the dual-track, hypocritical and propagation-like approach towards terrorism is one of main factors for the spread of terrorism in the region and the world. Instrumental use by the US from terrorism and shameful ignorance of the crimes committed by terrorism groups against Iranian civilians has resulted in spread of terrorism and the difficulty of confronting throughout the world.
5-Without the military interferences and destructive supports of the US for the terrorist groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen, the international community today would not have sustained heavy costs for international threats posed by these terrorist groups. Under such conditions the US cannot accuse other nations and governments of supporting terrorism by shrugging shoulders from its responsibilities.
6- The policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is in rejecting terrorism and extremism and all-out confrontation with them in a clear and blatant way. It is itself one of the biggest victims of terrorism and it has lost 17,000 of its nationals as result of that. Iran’s diplomatic cultural venues abroad and the Iranian diplomats have also been targeted by the terrorist groups affiliated to the countries supported by the US.
7- In order to prove its practicality in confronting terrorism, the US should resort to serious and all-out confrontation with the real instances of supporting and spread of terrorism in the region and world by putting an end to political and selective encounter with the issue of terrorism instead of releasing fictitious reports of this sort which only shows covering up reality and distorting the blatant realities.
8- The Islamic Republic of Iran has proven in practice that it is the most serious and effective force in confronting terrorism and while the US allies in the region are supporting Daesh (the ISIS) and other terrorist groups through different methods, the Islamic Republic of Iran is in the frontline of fighting terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Accordingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran within the framework of its principled policy like in the past emphasized on its preparedness to interact and cooperate with other governments and nations as well as international organization in the path of real and all-out confrontation with terrorism.