Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba kept on U.S. terror blacklist
WASHINGTON — The United States retained Iran and its ally Syria as well as Sudan and Cuba on a list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism Thursday, after blacklisting the countries the previous year.
In an annual report, the State Department said “Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2010,” citing “financial, material and logistic support” for militant groups in the Middle East and Central Asia.
It said Iran backed Palestinian groups Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, along with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Iraqi Shiite Muslim militant groups.
The State Department said its support for such groups “had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy.”
Iran was first designated a state sponsor of terror in 1984.
Allied with Iran, Syria was also kept on the list for supporting the same Palestinian militant groups and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. It was first designated a state sponsor of terror in 1974
In justifying its move, the State Department noted the external leadership for the Palestinian groups were based in Damascus and operated within Syria. Damascus is also home to Sunni Muslims affiliated with the Baath Party of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
“Iraqi Baathists continued to congregate in the Syrian capital and some of them call for violence against the Iraqi government, Iraqi civilian targets and American and coalition forces within Iraq,” it said.
It also stressed that Al-Rai television, owned by Iraqi politician Mishan al-Juburi, a Baathist, broadcasts from a suburban Damascus location “transmitted violent messages in support of terrorism in Iraq throughout the year.”
Sudan, which was designated a state sponsor of terror in 1993, remained on the blacklist even though the State Department acknowledged it was “a cooperative partner in global counter-terrorism efforts” against Al-Qaeda last year.
However, it said Al-Qaeda-inspired extremists and others remained in Sudan “as gaps remained in the Sudanese government’s knowledge of and ability to identify and capture” them and stop them from smuggling goods through the country.
Some Iraqi insurgents are also living in Sudan and “may be in a position to use their expertise to conduct attacks within Sudan or to pass on their knowledge,” the State Department added.
First designated a state sponsor of terror in 1982, Cuba was kept on the list again.
The State Department said there “was no evidence” that the communist island “had severed ties with elements from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),” despite its public stance against terror and terror financing.
It pointed to reports that current and former members of the Basque separatist group ETA live in Cuba.
The Country Reports on Terrorism was published late, more than three months after its April 30 due date, at which time US law requires the secretary of state to provide Congress a full report about countries and groups deemed to be implicated in terrorism.