Iran’s Support for Terror Has Been Low-Cost For Too Long, Experts Tell Lawmakers (CNS) CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Patrick Goodenough 07/26/12)
CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE
CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
(CNSNews.com) – While Iran faces unprecedented sanctions for its
nuclear activities, it has got off lightly over many years for its
support for terrorism, experts told a congressional panel on
Iran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ external operations
branch, Qods Force, and proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon have for
too long got away with carrying out devastating terror attacks around
the world, including those targeting Americans, they said.
“The regime has paid a very low price for sponsorship of terrorist
attacks from the Marine Barracks bombing in 1983 to the attacks last
week,” said American Enterprise Institute scholar Danielle Pletka,
referring to a suicide truck bombing in Beirut that killed 241
people, mostly U.S. Marines, and to last Wednesday’s suicide bombing
in Bulgaria, which cost the lives of five Israeli tourists and a
“It has hardly paid a price for flouting Security Council strictures
on exporting weapons to Hezbollah,” Pletka continued. “It has never
paid a price for the 1,000 U.S. servicemen’s lives taken by Iranian
groups in Iraq.”
Pletka was testifying before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee
on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs hearing
on “Iran’s support for terrorism in the Middle East.”
In his testimony, Washington Institute for Near East Policy senior
fellow and counterterrorism specialist Matthew Levitt made a similar
“One reason Iran is using terrorism as an extension of its foreign
policy is that it remains a cost-effective and relatively risk-free
endeavor for Tehran,” he said. “Iran must be led to believe that the
cost of sponsoring or carrying out an act of terrorism will now be
“That will be a difficult message to convey in the light of Iran’s
history of carrying out massive attacks without any significant
reaction from America, even in the case of attacks against U.S.
interests,” Levitt added. He cited attacks in Beirut, Iraq and the
1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, in which 19 U.S.
soldiers were killed.
Levitt and another expert, Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution,
both said the U.S. should urge allies to tighten up on Iranian
diplomatic missions, reducing the numbers of personnel to the minimum
needed for legitimate activities.
Iran has allegedly used embassies in support of militant activity for
many years. Three of eight Iranians accused by Argentina of
responsibility for the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community
center in Buenos Aires were attached to Iran’s embassy there. In
2007, Gen. David Petraeus told reporters that the Iranian ambassador
in Baghdad was a Qods Force member.
The witnesses told the panel American’s allies should also be pressed
to stop treating Hezbollah – which Pletka described as “the most
lethal terror group in the world” – with kid gloves.
“Too often Hezbollah has got a free pass from U.S. allies because it
also engages in political and social welfare activity, leading some
states to try to distinguish between its ‘legitimate’
and ‘illegitimate’ sides,” said Byman.
Other recommendations for U.S. action included applying financial
“It Hezbollah wants to continue as Iran’s proxy, then aid to Lebanon
needs to be reconsidered,” said Pletka. “If some among the
Palestinians wish to continue to play footsie with Iran, then we, the
Arabs, and the Europeans need to ensure that Iran is their only
Witnesses and lawmakers agreed that an Iran emboldened by a nuclear
weapons capability would likely become an even more active sponsor of
terrorism around the world that it is today.
“Even if it did not ever use an atom bomb, a nuclear Iran would feel
empowered to conduct more terrorist attacks against U.S. and Israeli
targets, provide more lethal assistance to Hezbollah and Palestinian
militant groups, and give the Qods Force greater liberty to support
terrorist groups across the Middle East,” said subcommittee chairman
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in his opening statement.
Byman also said a nuclear-capable Iran would likely give even greater
support to groups like Hezbollah. Pointing to Pakistan as an example,
he said once that country had developed nuclear arms – and a
perceived degree of immunity against India’s more superior
conventional forces – it stepped up its support for jihadist groups
fighting Indian rule in disputed Kashmir.
Byman did, however, say he thought it unlikely that Iran would pass
nuclear technology on to terrorist groups.
“One indication of Iran’s caution on this score is that it has not
transferred much less-lethal weapons, such as chemical weapons, even
though these have been in Iran’s arsenal for over 25 years.”
But one thing that could change that calculus, he said, would be if
the Iranian regime believed itself to be facing the imminent threat
of regime change, with “nothing to lose.”
Several witnesses referred to Shi’ite Iran’s relationship with the
Sunni terrorist network al-Qaeda, despite their sectarian differences.
The U.S. Treasury Department last summer accused Iran of
collaborating with an al-Qaeda network that sends money and recruits
through Iranian territory in support of its activities in Iraq and
Afghanistan. (copyright 1998-2012 Cybercast News Service 07/26/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY