'Iran's support for terrorism highest in decade'

Top US official: When it comes to Hezbollah, we're firmly committed to working with partners, allies to counter, disrupt Iranian activities.

Hezbollah gunman in Beirut_370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Hezbollah gunman in Beirut_370
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Iran’s support for terrorism and the activities of its proxy Hezbollah are at their highest levels in more than a decade, according to a top US official.
“We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities as they’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year,” said Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, in releasing the 2011 US report on global terror Tuesday.
“[They] are engaging in their most active and aggressive campaigns since the 1990s.”
Briefing journalists on the report, Benjamin did not point to any specific case beyond Iran’s attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, but other plots against Israeli diplomats and civilians in countries as diverse as India, Thailand and Georgia are also believed to have Iranian fingerprints.
When asked directly whether Iran was involved in the bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and their driver in Bulgaria last month, Benjamin declined to provide an answer.
Benjamin characterized Iran as “the preeminent state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” and said the US was “deeply concerned” about Iran undertaking violent activities directly through its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.
He added that when it came to dealing with Iran and Hezbollah, “We are firmly committed to working with partners and allies to counter and disrupt Iranian activities.”
He also assessed that the international community “is increasingly alert to this threat and will resist it.”
The report, which chronicles attacks and trends in countries around the world, also found a decline in terrorism globally as well as al-Qaida efforts specifically. It lists four major leaders of the organization who were killed last year in addition to Osama bin Laden.
“The loss of bin Laden and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse,” the report states. “These successes are attributable, in large part, to global counterterrorism cooperation, which has put considerable pressure on the al-Qaida core leadership in Pakistan.”
Benjamin cautioned, however, that despite the blows to al-Qaida’s core components, affiliates continue to proliferate and improve their capabilities.
“For all the counterterrorism successes that we’ve seen against al-Qaida and its affiliates, the group and violent extremist ideology and rhetoric continue to spread in some parts of the world,” he noted.