State Department: Iran the 'most active state sponsor of terrorism'
On Thursday, the US State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, which provides an overview of terrorism for the previous calendar year.
Iran "remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2010," the State Department reported. "Iran's financial, material, and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy."
As in past reports, the State Department highlighted Iran's assistance to its onetime foe, the Taliban.
The State Department noted: "Iran's 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 at least 2006," the report continues, "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 aiming to increase its influence in the country."
Although the State Department says this assistance has been ongoing since "at least 2006," multiple reports confirm that it started much earlier.
For example, in June, a DC district court denied Guantanamo detainee Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. [See LWJ report, DC district court denies former Taliban governor's habeas petition.]
Khairkhwa had served as the Taliban's governor of Herat province, and in that role he was tasked with improving relations between the Taliban and Iran. The court found that Khairkhwa "has repeatedly admitted that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he...met clandestinely with senior Iranian officials to discuss Iran's offer to provide the Taliban with weapons and other military support in anticipation of imminent hostilities with US coalition forces."
The meeting between the Taliban and Iran occurred in October 2001.
The State Department's report also includes a passage on Iran's handling of al Qaeda operatives. "In 2010, Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al Qaeda (AQ) members it continued to detain, and refused to publicly identify those senior members in its custody. Iran has repeatedly resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its AQ detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for trial."
Similar wording has appeared in previous State Department reports for several years.
The State Department did not note that Iran has also forged an agreement with al Qaeda allowing the terrorist organization to coordinate its operations on Iranian soil. In late July, the Treasury Department designated six al Qaeda members who are part of a terrorist network headquartered in Iran. [See LWJ report, Treasury targets Iran's 'secret deal' with al Qaeda.]
In that designation, the Treasury Department explained that the network is "headed by Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a prominent Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator, operating under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government." Khalil is also known as Yasin al Suri.
One member of Khalil's network, according to Treasury, is Atiyah Abd al Rahman, who is a top al Qaeda commander. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, files recovered in Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan safe house show Rahman was planning a terrorist attack to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Treasury says Rahman was "appointed by Osama bin Laden to serve as al Qaeda's emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials."
Rahman was previously one of the senior al Qaeda terrorists who was supposedly in Iranian custody. In reality, he had a deal with the Iranians that allowed him to travel in and out of Iran. Rahman is currently the head of al Qaeda in North and South Waziristan, Pakistan.