Earlier this year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke of “Iran’s alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence:
“Whether it be assassination attempts, support of weapons of mass destruction, deploying destabilizing militias, Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace.”
Evidence of Iran’s malign activity was recently made available when the State Department published its annual report on global terrorism. As Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell said at the release of the report, while ISIS remains a top focus for U.S. and international counterterrorism efforts, Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism globally.
The report identifies the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force as Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad— for example, through the Qods Force’s direct involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
But Iran also supports terrorism through proxies. “In 2016, Iran remained the primary source of funding for Hezbollah and coordinated closely with Hezbollah in its efforts to create instability in the Middle East,” Mr. Siberell said. Describing it as “an extremely sophisticated terrorist group” with a global network, Mr. Siberell noted that Hezbollah has “gone full-in on supporting the Assad regime and its war against the Syrian people…and [also] carried out several attacks against Israeli Defense Forces in 2016 along the Lebanese border.”
In addition, Iran supports Iraqi militant groups, including the Shia terrorist organization Kata’ib Hezbollah, which is guilty of serious rights abuses against Sunni civilians. Iran has also provided weapons, funding and training to Bahraini militants that have conducted attacks on Bahraini security forces.
And there is Iran’s relationship with al-Qaida: the Iranian government will not bring senior al-Qaida members detained in Iran to justice and refuses to publicly identify them. Also, since at least 2009, Iran has allowed al-Qaida facilitators to operate a pipeline through the country, enabling al-Qaida to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.
The State Department has made clear that terrorism—whether carried out by non-state actors or supported by a government’s power—has no place in a peaceful, civilized world. To that end, as President Donald Trump has said, “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran [and] deny it funding for terrorism.”