US terrorism report: Iran continues to create instability in throughout Middle East

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The Iranian government continues to support terrorist plots to attack dissidents in several countries in Europe. It maintains a “robust, offensive” cyber program to target foreign government and private sector entities, the US State Department said Wednesday.

Iran also refuses to publicly identify Al-Qaeda members in its custody, according to the “Country Reports on Terrorism 2019,” which is the annual report of terrorism from the State Department to Congress.

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“Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2019, including support for Hezbollah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East.

“Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to provide support to terrorist organizations, cover associated covert operations, and create instability in the region,” the report said.

The report highlighted that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in April 2019, designated the IRGC, including the Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). “Iran also used regional proxy forces to provide deniability, in an attempt to shield it from accountability for its aggressive policies,” the report said.

In Yemen, Iran continues to provide weapons, support, and training to the Houthi militia, “who have engaged in terrorist attacks against regional targets,” the report said.

Touching on members of Al-Qaeda in Iranian custody, the report said that Iran refuses to help bring them to justice and publicly identify members in its custody. “Iran has 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 report said.

European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Albania, have arrested or expelled Iranian government officials who were implicated in terrorist plots inside these countries. “Denmark similarly recalled its ambassador from Tehran after learning of an Iran-backed plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident in its country,” according to the report.

Separately, the report commended Saudi Arabia for its work in counterterrorism (CT) and “measures to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment.”

The report said that the Kingdom “maintained a high cooperation tempo with US and international partners in a range of CT fields.

“The Saudi Arabian government worked to disrupt, and supported US and international sanctions against, terrorist finance networks, focusing heavily on entities supporting Iran’s IRGC-QF, Lebanese Hezbollah, and other Iranian proxy groups active in the Gulf.”

In Turkey, the report noted that Turkish authorities use certain laws to criminalize freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and other human rights.

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