The latest US annual Terrorism Report reiterated that Iran “continued its extensive support for terrorism,” providing funding, training and weapons to militant groups.
The 2023 report issued on November 30, covered the situation in 2022 and declared in its introduction to country reports that “Iran continued to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism, facilitating a wide range of terrorist and other illicit activities around the world.”
The year the report covered coincided with extensive indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran on Iran’s expanding nuclear program and increasing uranium enrichment. By the end of 2022, a new nuclear deal remained elusive, but the Islamic Republic had stockpiled enough fissile material to build at least three nuclear weapons.
However, while holding talks on the nuclear issue, Iran continued its political and material support for its vast network of militant proxy groups in the region, that were targeting US forces in Iraq and Syria.
Iranian terror threat reached the shores of the United States, according to US federal agencies. “In 2022, Iran increasingly encouraged and plotted attacks against the United States, including against former U.S. officials, in retaliation for the death of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qasem Soleimani,” the report says. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton have been on Iran’s hit list and received additional security protection.
The report also accused the Islamic Republic of orchestrating threats against dissidents abroad. “As in past years, the Iranian government continued supporting terrorist plots or associated activities targeting dissidents and other perceived enemies of the regime. A British intelligence agency publicly reported uncovering at least 10 potential threats emanating from Iran’s government to kidnap or kill individuals in the United Kingdom in 2022.”
Iran International television network was the target of some of these plots in 2022, and was forced to temporarily shift its broadcast operations from London to Washington DC under advisement by UK security officials.
“Regionally, Iran supported acts of terrorism in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen through proxies and partner groups such as Hizballah and al-Ashtar Brigades,” the report stated, but also highlighted Iranian threats beyond the Middle East. “Globally, the IRGC-QF and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security remained Iran’s primary actors involved in supporting terrorist recruitment, financing, and plotting across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America.”
Iran’s foreign ministry responded to the US annual report on Saturday, unleashing a series of accusations, condemning Washington of establishing and supporting the Islamic State group. It also used the “terrorist” label for US efforts to support Israel.
Foreign ministry’s spokesman Naser Kanaani rejected the terrorist label for what Tehran calls “The Resistance Front,” comprised of groups supported and controlled by the Islamic Republic. “It is clear to everyone that the United States government is the main culprit in the formation, training, equipping, and guidance of ISIS terrorists. Recently, with comprehensive support for state-sponsored terrorism by the Israeli regime and providing various bombs and deadly weapons to this terrorist regime,” the US has been “a partner in genocide against Palestinian,” Kanaani insisted.
The US report, however, reiterated that Iran’s main vehicle to support militant groups is the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force (IRGC-QF). “Iran has acknowledged the involvement of the IRGC-QF in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, and the IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorist activity abroad.”
The report also emphasized that Iran continued financial and military support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups in 2022. It also beefed up the Houthis in Yemen and attacked commercial vessels in international waters in the Persian Gulf region.