The US State Department has released its annual report related to terrorism and global terrorist activities. While the Iranian regime is enjoying the billions of dollars coming from the American taxpayers, as well as reaping the fruits of sanctions relief, the annual Country Reports on Terrorism declared that the Iranian regime has remained the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
In fact, Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and its power have significantly increased last year. According to the State Department's report,
Iran remained the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015, providing a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to groups around the world – particularly Hezbollah. Iran continued to be deeply involved in the conflict in Syria, working closely with the Assad regime to counter the Syrian opposition, and also in Iraq where Iran continued to provide support to militia groups, including the Foreign Terrorist Organization Kata’ib Hezbollah. In addition, it was implicated for its support to violent Shia opposition group attacks in Bahrain. Iran was joined in these efforts by Hezbollah, which continued to operate globally, as demonstrated by the disruption of Hezbollah activities in Peru in 2014 and Cyprus in 2015.
The Iranian regime has long utilized three important institutions to commit terrorist activities. As the State Department report states, “In 2015, Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide remained undiminished through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, which remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region.”
But Iran has not only relied on its IRGC, Qods Force and Hezbollah for terrorism. The Iranian regime has fostered the birth of many other radical and terrorist groups in the last few years.
According to the annual report, in 2015, “Iran increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia terrorist groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), which is a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization….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.”
It is worth noting that the Obama administration and Rouhani’s government were two key players in getting the nuclear agreement sealed. When the nuclear deal terms were implemented, the Obama administration began immediately transferring billions of dollars to Iran's Central Bank. One of the payments included 1.7 billion dollars transferred in January 2015 of which 1.4 billion dollars was from American taxpayers. Two of the major beneficiaries of this sanctions relief have been Hezbollah and the IRGC. Iran also immediately increased its IRGC budget by $1.5 billion from $15.6 billion to $17.1 billion.
Finally, while the mainstream media depicts the Islamic State and Al Qaeda as being on the opposite side of the spectrum as Iran, cooperation and convergence of interests among these three actors are more than evident. With regard to the collaboration between the Iranian regime and Al-Qaeda, the US State department pointed out that “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.”
The United States Federal Court previously ordered the Iranian regime to pay $7.5 billion to the 9/11 victims’ families. Instead of holding the Iranian regime responsible and instead of countering the roots of terrorism which are emerging from the Islamic Republic and affecting the lives of millions of innocent people, President Obama continues to send American taxpayer money to Iran’s Central Bank, avoids criticizing Iranian leaders, advocates for the continuation of sanctions relief, disregards Iran’s threat, and defends the Iranian regime as a constructive and rational state actor. It is an urgent matter for the US and European countries to pursue and implement policies that would counter the Iranian regime’s increasing terrorist activities and sponsorship of terrorism.