State Department Warns Iran Proxies Have ‘Near-Global Terrorist Reach’

The report specifically cited the activities of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani the powerful Revolutionary Guard commander. AP

The report specifically cited the activities of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani the powerful Revolutionary Guard commander. AP

The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

The Iranian government maintains a robust offensive cyberprogram and has sponsored cyberattacks against foreign government and private sector entities, the State Department report said.

"Commenting on the report's findings, the department's coordinator of counterterroism, Nathan A. Sales, stated, "[Iran] is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining USA interests in Syria, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Bahrain, in Afghanistan, and in Lebanon, using a number of proxies and other instruments such as Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp's Quds Force".

The report comes as the Trump administration is toughening its stance against Iran.

"We've seen operational activity not just in Lebanon by Hezbollah, but by Iran-backed terrorists in the heart of Europe", said head of the State Department's Counterterrorism Bureau and Ambassador-at-Large Nathan Sales.

However, despite these battlefield successes, United States officials have warned that the IS was still well positioned to make a comeback in the region.

A major factor behind the declines was a sharp drop in terrorist attacks in Iraq.

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The number of deaths due to terrorist attacks fell by 27 percent to 18,753.

Despite the drop in attacks, the report described the terrorist landscape as "more complex" and said the terrorist threat to the US and allies around the world had "evolved".

The report says the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates have become more dispersed and clandestine, turning to the Internet to inspire attacks by distant followers.

Also in 2017, al-Qaida quietly expanded its membership and operations, with a global network that includes forces in Syria, the Gulf, North Africa, Somalia and the Indian subcontinent in addition to core forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It has largely remained out of the headlines in recent years as it has been content to let ISIS bear the brunt of the worldwide response, but one shouldn't confuse that period of relative quiet with Al Qaeda's abandonment of its capabilities or intentions to strike the U.S. and its allies, Mr Sales said.

2017 has seen a rise in attacks by "homegrown terrorists" or people who plan and/or carry out attacks inspired by IS but have never traveled to Iraq or Syria, the report noted.

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