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.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • madashell59 says:

    Why is it that we have to have a report on this to say what is already known. And why do we not remember the real reason why we took out Saddam Hussein and that is that the two major supporters of Islamist terrorism were Iraq and Iran. They were both using terror groups in hopes of controlling the Middle East. Now with Saddam gone there is only one country that is the sponsor of terrorism. And like Saddam they are using terrorist organizations as their contracted armies. Why do we not go after the hornets nest instead of killing the hornets at their feeding areas?

  • Charu says:

    Iraq was not a supporter of Islamist terrorism under Saddam. He was many things, including being a evil despot, but he was not an Islamist. We took him out because he was sitting on one of the largest oil fields around, and because he attacked Kuwait and posed a threat to Saudi Arabia, our main supplier of oil.
    Iran is certainly a major supporter of Islamist terrorism, but so are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Which is why these State Department half-reports are deeply flawed.

  • TLA says:

    We will need to go after Saudi Arabia too in order to do the job properly. I doubt we’ll stop buying their oil, but their regional means of control needs to be stripped somehow. They’ll keep on using us to win the everpresent Sunni-Shi’ite conflict and Islamic desire for domination. Both sides need to lose, and revert to a more appropriate technological environment.

  • sports says:

    What does Iran hope to gain by sponsoring terrorism? I would think most Iranians desire peace and prosperity the way most people do. Maybe not…I don’t understand their thinking.

  • Chris says:

    You’re wrong Charu.I just don’t understand why people keep on with this myth that the man was simply some sort of “secular” fascist dictator who “just” happened to use one of the world’s largest oil reservoirs to benefit his own mafia.The man was psychotic and delusional and funded INNUMERABLE Islamist terrorist groups all over the world.Just google Saddam Hussein and Terror,for God’s sakes and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.Indeed this was the main reason why people behind the scenes in the Bush administration wanted to end Iraqi Baathism after 9/11,it’s just that WMD’s were sexier and easier to talk to the public about.

  • Vienna,20-08-2011
    I think the Department of State, U.S. teaching
    Pakistani lesson to the world by going to be
    selective on ” acceptable and unacceptable”
    terror sponsors.Open up communication windows.
    If Col.Oliver North can offer Iran war material
    what is wrong with your opening political talk with
    Iran rulers? Why hoot out a nation that seeks
    talks? Identify merit based issues and pursue them.
    I do hope the United states of America opens
    diplomatic channels instead of all out unsustainable
    war mongering. Why make Saudi Arabia, Mandarin
    China, etc exceptions for example? Issue based
    policies can help save funds and reduce deficits,
    mental as well.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring,TTTMM
    India — Kulamarva Balakrishna

  • Al says:

    Saddam openly supported terrorism, by offering the families of suicide bombers $25K. What he did secretly, is not yet know. He certainly terrorized Kurds. And the “swamp people” culture.

  • Chris says:

    “What does Iran hope to gain by sponsoring terrorism?”
    In the short term,the apparency of power and prestige.
    In the long term,nothing but hate and ill well from the international community and the people of the Middle East.
    If anything,Iran’s continued sponsoring of terrorism just shows how ridiculous and schizophrenic the Iranian regime really is.There’s no introspection in the mind of the head of the IRGC when he goes out and orders operatives to train the Taliban and fund the Promised Day Martyr’s Brigades.There’s no conscience when the man goes out and sends “advisors” to help beat Arabs in Syria and murder Prime Ministers in Lebanon.These people are truly insane.Which is all the more reason why they can’t be allowed to have nuclear weapons,under ANY circumstances.

  • TEM says:

    Ramzi Yousef, the first to bomb the WTC, was carrying an Iraqi passport.
    Saddam was an ardent supporter of PLO terrorists,including those who highjacked the Naples based cruise ship, Achille Lauro, in 10/85 resulting in the death of a disabled 69 yo US citizen.
    The leader of that operation was Abu Abbas who was still residing in Iraq up to the US invasion.
    The thing that scares the hell out of me is this, Iran seizing the oil fields in Saudia Arabia,along with the presumption the Iranian regime has produced nuclear weapons.
    This would cause a plethora of problems and would force the US and UK to respond in a very,very harsh manner.

  • Bungo says:

    madashell said: “Why do we not go after the hornets nest instead of killing the hornets at their feeding areas?”
    Because they have not attacked us (the USA) directly and there is about 0.05% popular support for direct action by us (the USA) directly against Iran. And we can’t afford it right now.
    If it makes you feel any better you can rest assured that there are plenty of clandestine operations we are taking against Iran along with Israel and maybe even a few other friendly nations.
    Bottom line is, the People of Iran will probaly take care of the current regime in the forseeable future. They came close a while back. If Libya and Syria have success in their “popular uprisings” like in Egypt, Iran will not be very far behind.

  • sports says:

    @charu…I strongly disagree.

  • Charu says:

    Iraq was an unnecessary war. We took our eye off the war in Afghanistan when we had the Taliban on the ropes and are now, unfortunately, paying for it. I can’t be the only one here who thinks this.

  • Ranger says:

    We drew many from their lairs in Pak, Iran, Europe, & from throughout the Muslim world.
    We fought on a battlefield eminently better than in the Hindu Kush, or at home in the US.
    And we slaughtered them by the tens of the thousands. The worst of the worst. In a fight for the city of the Caliphs, we won. Crushingly. Inflicting a huge morale blow as well. And discrediting AQ in much of the Islamic world along the way. While also of course rendering the country WMD-free (from Saddam). And building a potential long term ally of sorts.
    And we demonstrated to the world that our words have meaning, that they aren’t empty. When you violate your end of the deal (like Saddam did), we drop the hammer.
    *side note
    Saddam added “Allahu Ackbar” to the Iraqi flag after gulf war 1
    His uncle worked for the Nazis & Grand Mufti, trying to overthrow the king during WWII.

  • Ryan says:

    “If it makes you feel any better you can rest assured that there are plenty of clandestine operations we are taking against Iran along with Israel and maybe even a few other friendly nations.”
    The problem with clandestine operations is that they only act as minor roadblocks against their nuclear program and the Iranians have a reputation for being tenacious in overcoming any obstacles they throw at them except invading Iran of course.


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