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Friday, August 6, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

State sponsors of terror: Iran, Sudan, Cuba, Syria

WASHINGTON — The State Department has cited four state sponsors of groups designated as terrorist, although two of the governments were said to have cooperated with the United States in the area of counter-insurgency.


On the list are Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. Iran was again deemed the "most active state sponsor of terrorism."

"With the exception of Hamas, whose members the Sudanese government considers freedom fighters, the government does not openly support the presence of extremist elements in this country," the department, in a report titled "Country Reports on Terrorism 2009," said.

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The report, released on Aug. 5, said both Damascus and Khartoum have been working with the United States against Al Qaida-aligned insurgents. The department, however, said Sudan and Syria continue to harbor insurgency groups, including Al Qaida elements linked to Iraq and Somalia.

"The Sudanese government continued to pursue counterterrorism operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan," the report said. "Sudanese officials have indicated that they view their continued cooperation with the U.S. government as important and recognize the potential benefits of U.S. training and information-sharing."

But officials said Sudan has been resentful of Washington's decision to keep Khartoum on the State Department's terrorist list. Still, they said, Sudan has not given any indication that it would reduce CI cooperation with the United States.

The report said Sudan has harbored such groups as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both designated by the State Department as terrorist. Sudan, however, was said to have limited Hamas's activities to fundraising.

"The Sudanese government has also worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters from using Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for terrorists going to Iraq," the report said. "However, gaps remain in the Sudanese government's knowledge of these individuals and its ability to identify and capture them."

"There was some evidence to suggest that individuals who were active participants in the Iraqi insurgency have returned to Sudan and are in a position to use their expertise to conduct attacks within Sudan or to pass on their knowledge to local Sudanese extremists," the report said. "There was also evidence that Sudanese extremists participated in terrorist activities in Somalia."

Syria was also reported as having helped decreased insurgency activity. The report said the regime of President Bashar Assad has sharply reduced the flow of Al Qaida insurgents into neighboring Iraq.

"In 2009, Syria increased border monitoring activities, instituted tighter screening practices on military-age Arab males entering its borders, and agreed to participate with the U.S. and Iraqi governments in a trilateral border security assessment of the Syrian side of the Syrian-Iraqi border," the report said.

But the State Department cited Syria's harboring of such groups as Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The report said Syria has enabled these groups to conduct operations.

"In addition, the Syrian government has made no attempt to restrict the operation, travel, or movement of these groups’ leaders or members," the report said. "Syria allows terrorist groups resident in its territory to receive and ship goods, including weapons, in and out of the country."

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