By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Jennifer Packer, www.TheIsraelProject.org
A cargo ship filled with tons of Iranian weaponry en route to Iran-backed terror groups that was intercepted Tuesday (Nov. 3) 100 miles (161 km) from Israel’s coast provides further evidence of the Islamic Republic’s status as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The ship, carrying hundreds of tons of advanced weaponry and missiles, including Katyusha rockets, assault rifles, mortar shells, grenades, and anti-aircraft platforms, was to be delivered to the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday (Nov. 5) said Iran’s attempted shipment of arms to terrorists – and the Islamic Republic’s intent to kill Israeli civilians — was a war crime the UN Security Council should investigate. “Their goal was… to kill as many civilians as possible,” Netanyahu said. The weapons shipment also constitutes yet another breach of UN Security Council resolutions 1747 and 1701, which forbid the Islamic Republic from exporting or trading weapons.
Also on Nov. 3, Israeli military intelligence revealed that the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas successfully tested a rocket with a range of up to 37 miles (60 km), which places Israel’s second largest city Tel Aviv within firing range. Hamas also possesses other Iranian-manufactured rockets like the Fajr-3, which has a range of up to 29 miles (47 km).
Since 2001, Iran-backed terrorist groups have fired over 12,000 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel. Hezbollah launched over 4,000 rockets into Israel in 2006 during Israel’s defensive war against Hezbollah, also known as the Second Lebanon War, and has stockpiled more than 20,000 rockets in southern Lebanon since the end of the war.
Following is important background information about Iran’s financial support of terrorism worldwide.
Iran: Leading State Sponsor of Terror Across the Globe
Iran is widely recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism. Both directly and indirectly, Iran funds, trains and arms groups that share the regime’s stated goal of destroying Israel and the West, as well as overthrowing regimes in Muslim countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These groups include Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Iran also provides support to insurgent groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan which have inflicted casualties on American, British, Australian and other multinational forces.
Iran is expanding its terror network beyond the Middle East, using Hezbollah and splinter groups of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to recruit and train sleeper cells in foreign countries. The terror network that Iran has created and continues to sustain, combined with the regime’s determination to become a nuclear power, is a serious international security issue and a growing global concern.
FBI officials have also noted that Hezbollah has a sizeable presence in the United States, and suspects that Hezbollah may be planning to activate sleeper cells in the New York City area.
Iran poses different threats to nations and regions across the globe.
The terrorist group Hezbollah, which operates primarily out of Lebanon, is one of Tehran’s primary weapons against Israel and Western interests in the region. Iran helped found, organize and train Hezbollah and gives the group over $200 million a year, in addition to an estimated $300 million after the war with Israel in 2006. It also continues to provide arms to the group, despite the demands of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. 
Since Israel’s defensive war against Hezbollah in 2006, Iran has replenished Hezbollah’s arsenal of artillery rockets, and has supplied more advanced anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles. At least 4,500 Hezbollah operatives have received intensive training from Iran. In August 2009, Egypt intercepted a group of Hezbollah militant cells planning the assassination of Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, as well as its link to another group planning on targeting Israeli tourists to Jordan. That same month, Egypt was hit by a barrage of mortars launched by militant Islamic groups in Gaza.
Iran also supports Palestinian terror groups opposed to a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. From 1993-2006, Iran provided approximately $30 million in annual subsidies to Hamas. Since Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006, Iran has transferred several hundred million dollars annually to Hamas. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has trained approximately 950 Hamas terrorists in rocket and bomb construction, tactical warfare, weapons operation and sniper tactics.
Iran also provides the vast majority of Hamas’ weaponry. Since Israel’s defensive Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Iran has supplied Hamas with advanced weaponry, including dozens of Iranian-produced 122mm Grad rockets which have significantly increased the range of Hamas’ rocket arsenal. During the operation, the Iranians claimed that more than 70,000 Iranian college students from universities throughout Iran volunteered to serve as suicide bombers to carry out attacks against Israel. The rush of volunteerism came after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a religious decree stating that anyone who carried out an attack against Israel on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza would be considered a martyr.
In 2002, the Israeli Navy intercepted “Karin A,” a ship carrying 50 tons of advanced weaponry and rockets supplied by Iran and Hezbollah that was bound for Palestinian terrorist groups through Gaza’s waterway.
In Iraq, Iran has fomented violence by giving insurgents about $3 million monthly and providing arms and training for them. Iranian-supplied explosively formed penetrators (EFP’s) are a serious concern for U.S. soldiers; the weapons were responsible for 18 percent of U.S. combat deaths in the last quarter of 2006, and 30 percent in -dominated areas. In July 2007, Iran planned an operation that killed five American servicemen, according to the U.S. Army. Shia groups now use Fajr-3 rockets bearing the markings of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard dated 2007, and Hezbollah also uses the Fajr-3. Attacks on U.S. bases have included the use of these rockets as well. Iran has sought to provoke sectarian violence in Iraq, and to that end, arms Sunni groups as well. Iran has sent revolutionary guard units to Iraq to train Shia militia fighters, and sent explosive-laden motorcycles across the border.
Iran arms the Taliban’s campaign against NATO forces and civilians in Afghanistan even as it publicly supports Hamid Karzai’s government. Iran provides the Taliban with 107mm mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, C-4 explosives and small arms. Iran also gave the Taliban surface-to-air missiles, which they use against British troops. Iran is the main supporter of Hekmatyar, a major warlord and drug trafficker.
Europe and beyond
Europe serves as a popular location for Hezbollah operatives to conduct fundraising activities, accruing an estimated $198 million a year. E.U. officials have identified 900 Hezbollah terrorists residing in Germany and sleeper cells in 20 E.U. nations. Hezbollah cells are using key European capitals as intelligence-gathering centers. In 2008, evidence suggested Hezbollah had planned terrorist attacks in Rome and Paris, as well as the kidnapping of major figures.
Iran has worked directly and through proxies, including small groups linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, to recruit potential suicide bombers to attack Israel, Europe and the United States. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has praised martyrdom as an “eternal art.” The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, backed by the regime and linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has reportedly enlisted 40,000 people to carry out suicide attacks.
Iran maintains terrorist training camps within its borders and abroad. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, an extra-territorial arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, operates 20 known terrorist training camps and centers. Hamas, Hezbollah and groups in Iraq send fighters to camps in Iran for months and even years of intensive training. Through Hezbollah, Iran trains insurgents in Iraq.
During the 1990s, Iran sent arms to the Muslim-led Bosnian government, a move violating a United Nations embargo on all sides of the civil war. Additionally, between 2004 and 2007 it was reported that over 300 Iranian operatives had entered Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Latin and South America
Hezbollah also carried out terrorist attacks in Argentina, and killed 241 Americans in the 1983 suicide bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. On Aug. 21, Iranian President Ahmadinejad nominated Ahmad Vahidi, wanted for his part in planning the 1994 Argentinean attack that killed 85 at a Jewish community center, as defense minister.
Hezbollah is very active in Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay, as well as other Latin American countries, seeking to plan new attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets in the continent. In 2009, the anti-American Hugo Chavez of Venezuela continued to strengthen his ties with Iran. Additionally, Hezbollah has been using Mexican smuggling routes, to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, in order to bring in money to finance terrorist operations.
Attacks on U.S. and British citizens
In 1988, an Iran-backed terrorist organization was responsible for the kidnapping, torture and murder of Col. William Higgins, a U.S. Marine officer serving under a UN mandate in Lebanon. Additionally, Iran has placed a death warrant on British author Salman Rushdie, attempted to assassinate him in 1989 and has kept a $2.5 million bounty on him.
North Korea and Iran have maintained strong ties. In 2007, the two countries signed a cultural and scientific exchange plan. Additionally, North Korea has shared its nuclear technology know-how with Iran and North Korea has provided arms and training to Hezbollah through this relationship. Such ties have also involved rocket experiments; in May 2009, a Scud missile reportedly tested by North Korea, Syria and Iran killed more than 20 people in a Syrian market.
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