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5/10/03 - IRAN’S SUPPORT FOR TERRORISM - 2003-05-12

The liberation of Iraq has reduced the number of states that sponsor terrorism from seven to six. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, this is “a great victory for freedom”:

“It has freed the international community from the threat posed by the potentially catastrophic combination of a rogue regime, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorists. And it has freed the Iraqi people from a vicious oppressor.”

The six remaining state sponsors of terrorism are Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea. The most active is Iran.

Terrorist groups supported by Iran’s extremist Muslim clerical regime include Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and Hezbollah. Iran provides these groups with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons.

Hezbollah takes its ideological inspiration from the extremist Shia Muslim teachings of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 revolution. Based in Lebanon and also supported by Syria, Hezbollah seeks the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah operates independently of Lebanese authority along Lebanon’s border with Israel. Victims of Hezbollah’s terrorist attacks include Israelis, Lebanese, hundreds of Americans, and dozens of people from France and Argentina.

Iran has also provided support to terrorist groups in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, including groups with ties to al-Qaida. Iranian officials have turned over to other governments a number of al-Qaida terrorists, but other members of al-Qaida have found safe haven in Iran.

The actions of Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism show that the U.S. and its allies cannot relax their efforts, said Secretary of State Powell:

“The international campaign against terrorism must press forward on every front: diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, financial, and military.”

“This global threat,” said Secretary of State Powell, “demands a global response.”