Syria has been deemed the second biggest sponsor of
terrorism in the world, a report commissioned by Congress says.
"After Iran, Syria is the most active state sponsor of terrorism and is
included in the U.S. State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism,"
the annual Gilmore Commission report said. "Libya is another country that has a history of supporting
terrorism and is known to possess chemical weapons."
The report said Syria is far more active than Iraq in its support for
terrorist groups. Syria hosts a range of Arab, Islamic and Kurdish groups
deemed as terrorists in Damascus, Middle East Newsline reported.
A report by the Gilmore Commission on the weapons of mass destruction
capabilities that could be used against the United States classified Syria
as the largest sponsor of terrorism after Iran. The commission's fourth
annual report addresses the U.S. requirements to thwart any attack deemed as
"Iraq provides sanctuary to a number of notorious anti-Israeli Arab
nationalist groups but it is not nearly as active in its support as either
Iran or Syria," the report said.
The report reflects growing sentiment in the House and Senate that the
United States cannot advance in the war against terrorism without addressing
Syria. Leading members of Congress said Syria harbors and supports the
Lebanese-based Hizbullah, deemed as the most dangerous Islamic insurgency
group in the world.
The commission has examined response capabilities at the federal, state,
and local levels in the United States. The Rand Corp. has assisted in
drafting the report and the commission's activities.
On Tuesday, Syria and the United States held what was termed an
unofficial dialogue meant to improve bilateral relations. The dialogue,
sponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, was held in
Damascus with the participation of Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania
Republican and a leading member of Congress. A similar dialogue with leading
Syrian diplomats took place last year in the United States.