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Iran Top State Terror Sponsor

Lebanese Hezbollah fighters stand next to a mock rocket under a poster of Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

The U.S. State Department has again named Iran the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorist activity.”

The U.S. State Department has again named Iran the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorist activity.”

In its most recent Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department said that over the past year Iran increased its terrorist-related activity, “likely in an effort to exploit the uncertain political conditions resulting from the Arab Spring, as well as in response to perceived increasing external pressure on Tehran.”

During a press briefing introducing the report, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin said the United States is increasingly concerned about Iran’s terrorist activity, both through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force and the activity of Hezbollah:

"They’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year…and are engaging in their most active and aggressive campaign since the 1990s. Iran’s use of terrorism as an instrument of policy was exemplified, as you are all aware, by the involvement of elements of the Iranian government in the 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador here in Washington.”

The State Department report says that Iran’s destabilizing activity also includes support for Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups; the Taliban in Afghanistan; Iraqi Shia militant groups; the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad, and al Qaida activists in Iran. By allowing al Qaida members to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iranian territory, the State Department says Iran enabled al Qaida “to carry funds and move facilitators and operatives to South Asia and elsewhere.”

The report notes that the Saudi Ambassador assassination plot, which involved enlisting the assistance of a Mexico-based drug cartel, demonstrates that Iran also “sought to expand its activities in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Iran is and remains the pre-eminent state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” said Ambassador Benjamin. “We are firmly committed to working with partners and allies to counter and disrupt Iranian activities and to prevent Iran from sponsoring new acts of terror. We think the international community is increasingly alert to this threat and will resist it.”