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US accuses Iran of surge in 'terrorism'

31 may 2013, 15:14
0
©AFP
©AFP
The United States on Thursday accused Iran of sponsoring "terrorism" at a level unseen in decades and said that the separate threat from Al-Qaeda has been significantly degraded, AFP reports.

In an annual report to Congress, the State Department kept its perennial designation of four countries -- Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria -- as "state sponsors of terrorism" which carries a raft of stiff sanctions.

The State Department said that Iran's "state sponsorship of terrorism" witnessed a "marked resurgence" in 2012, pointing both to activities by Tehran and its support for the Lebanese Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

"Iran and Hezbollah's terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa," the report said.

It pointed to Bulgaria's charges that Hezbollah was involved in a July 2012 bombing in Sofia that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian, as well as allegations against Hezbollah over plots in Cyprus and Thailand.

The State Department also faulted Iran and Hezbollah for assistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his "brutal crackdown" since anti-government protests and later an armed rebellion erupted in 2011.

The report comes as the European Union moves to designate Hezbollah as a "terrorist" group following appeals by the United States and Israel. Hezbollah is a powerful political group and militia inside fragile Lebanon.

Separately, the United States said that the core of Al-Qaeda was "on a path to defeat" and that the movement headed by the late Saudi Osama bin Laden was dwindling due to a US-led campaign in Pakistan.

"As a result of leadership losses, the (Al-Qaeda) core's ability to direct activities and attacks has diminished, as its leaders focus increasingly on survival," it said.

Justifying its continued blacklisting of Cuba, the State Department said that the island was providing safe haven to "approximately two dozen" members of the Basque separatist group ETA, as well as fugitives wanted by Washington.

Those fugitives include Joanne Chesimard, convicted of killing a police officer 40 years ago, whom the FBI earlier this month placed on its list of "most wanted terrorists."

The United States has sought to isolate Cuba since Fidel Castro's communist revolution in 1959.

In response to progress on concerns, the United States in recent years took North Korea off the terrorism blacklist and made initial steps to remove Sudan.

The State Department report said that "Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist groups" remained in Sudan but acknowledged that Khartoum was increasingly cooperating with the United States.

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