AFP: Iran, which continues to plan and finance terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond, remains the "most active state sponsor of terrorism" in the world, the US government charged Thursday.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Iran, which continues to plan and finance terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond, remains the "most active state sponsor of terrorism" in the world, the US government charged Thursday.
Iran was lumped with Syria, Sudan and Cuba as terrorism sponsors in the State Department report for 2008, the same countries that appeared in previous annual reports.
North Korea was dropped from the blacklist in October 2008 after it struck a verbal deal with the United States aimed at verifying its nuclear disarmament, even though a formal agreement was never sealed.
The latest report said "Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism," while also calling it the "most significant" sponsor.
"Iran's involvement in the planning and financial support of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy," it said.
It singled out the Qods Force, an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as the Islamic republic's main means to cultivate and support terrorists overseas.
The Qods Force gave "weapons, training and funding" to Hamas and other Palestinian anti-Israeli groups, Lebanon's Shiite Muslim fundamentalist Hezbollah as well as Iraq-based militants and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, the report said.
It also said the Qods Force trained the Taliban "on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons."
Iran broke its own pledges to help stabilize Iraq by giving "weapons, training, funding, and guidance" to Iraqi militant groups that attack US-led coalition and Iraqi forces as well as Iraqi civilians, the US said.
The report also took to task Syria, an Iranian ally which it said also supported Hezbollah as well as Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups. Some of the leaders of those groups are based in Damascus.
"Throughout the year, Syria continued to strengthen ties with fellow state sponsor of terrorism, Iran," the report said.
It said "Syria has not been directly implicated in an act of terrorism since 1986," but it pointed out that the United Nations was still investigating a suspected Syrian role in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The State Department sounded more upbeat on Sudan.
Sudan generally believed it was in its interest to cooperate with US efforts to thwart attacks against the United States, but yet allowed groups like Hamas to operate on its territory, the report said.
It also said that "Al-Qaeda-inspired elements" were also in Sudan.
The US said communist Cuba, which has been under a US embargo for decades, continued to be "provide safe haven to several terrorists" such as members of the Basque separatist group ETA and the Colombian rebel group FARC.
But it added that some members of these groups stayed in Cuba last year after having arrived "in connection with peace negotiations with the governments of Spain and Colombia."