Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Does Iran Pose A Terrorist Threat To The United States

Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton are beating the drums of war against Iran. They call Iran a "bad actor" and a supporter of terrorism. They would have you believe that the danger posed to the United States from terrorism is due to Iranian influence and support. Is that true?

Let's look at all the times Iranian or Iranian-backed terrorists have attacked the United States. Consider this from The New Republic:

For the past twenty years or so, the annual reports of the National Counterterrorism Center have attributed the vast majority of the Islamic terrorist attacks around the world since 2001 to “Sunni extremists”—jihadists inspired by the anti-imperialist Salafist theology of Saudi Arabia. ISIS and other fundamentalist militias fall under this category of Sunni extremism, often funded by wealthy Persian Gulf Arabs. They hate the heretical—as they see them—Shia Muslims of Iran almost as much as they hate the “Crusaders and Jews” of Washington and Tel Aviv. The fanatics behind the attacks of 9/11, Madrid, London, Paris, and San Bernardino were all Sunni extremists. None of the terrorists involved in those bloody attacks was Iranian. . . .

The idea that Tehran was Terror Central originated in 1979 when Iranians held 52 American diplomats hostage for some 400 days. When Iran then used covert operatives and proxy forces to wage war on Western targets after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the Reagan administration depicted Iran as the biggest state sponsor of terrorism. The charge stuck, even as Iran’s revolutionary fervor cooled and factions within the government pursued better relations with Washington.

Since 9/11, however, Iran’s attacks on Western targets have dwindled while the violence of non-state anti-Iranian terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS has gone global. Read the NCTC reports of the last 20 years, and you will see Iranian/Shiite terrorism is not even a category in U.S. counterterrorism reporting. By any objective measure, it is a much smaller threat to Americans and the world than either Sunni terrorism or white nationalist terrorism.

Looking for specifics, I emailed a couple of experts and asked for their take on the State Department claim. Which Americans were killed by Iran? When?

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA station chief, replied by email, “The best case is in Iraq after 2003 when IRGC supported Iraqis [who] killed US troops.” Bruce Hoffman, counterterrorism expert at Georgetown University, told me via email that the State Department was probably referring “to the intense fighting in Sadr City in Baghdad in 2008 between IRGC and U.S. military forces.”

If so, however, that wouldn’t exactly qualify as terrorism. In Sadr City, the IRGC forces attacked uniformed U.S. military forces that had invaded Iraq on a false pretense—hardly the same as blowing up a civilian airliner or shooting up a rock concert.

Hoffman also emphasized that the IRGC was involved in terror attacks against Americans in the 20th century, which is both indisputably true and a long time ago.

“The IRGC had a role in training Hezbollah and providing logistical assistance for the US embassy bombings in Beirut in 1983 and 1984 and the US Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport also in 1983,” Hoffman wrote. “They were also likely involved in the kidnappings, torture and deaths of CIA Station Chief William Buckley in 1985, of USMC Col William Higgins in 1989.”. . .

The last terror attack on Americans, plausibly linked to Iran or its proxies, was theKhobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel. That happened 22 years ago.

Does this add tup to a substantial terror threat from Iran? Note that no attack on U.S. citizens by Iranian-backed terrorists has occurred anywhere for the last 22 years. And no Iranian-backed terrorist attack has ever happened on U.S. soil (except for the 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 40 years ago). Iranian-backed terrorists have never attacked the Continental United States.

Iranians are Shiite muslims. All attacks in the U.S. by muslims have been by Sunni muslims. Iran has fought against the Sunni muslim terrorist groups (like ISIS in Iraq and al-Queda in Yemen).

Don't let Trump and his henchmen convince you that the terrorist attacks in the U.S. have anything to do with Iran. They do not! Using terrorism as an excuse to go to war with Iran is nothing more than an outrageous lie!

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