Iran’s extremist militias and their proxies were behind a recent string of terror attacks against Israeli diplomatic targets around the globe and might seek to strike the United States, U.S. counterterrorism officials said Wednesday.
“We have seen an uptick in operational activity by the Quds Force over the last year or so,” National Counter-Terrorism Center Director Matthew G. Olsen told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Mr. Olsen said the Quds Force, the elite division of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for operations abroad, “poses a threat beyond the immediate [Middle East] region,” including to the U.S. homeland.
He cited the federal prosecution last year of a senior member of the force for involvement in a failed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a Washington restaurant.
The Quds Force and the Lebanese Shiite extremist militia Hezbollah, which the Iranians have used as a proxy for terror attacks in the past, are “a significant source of concern for us,” added Kevin L. Perkins, associate deputy director of the FBI.
Mr. Perkins said the bureau is focusing its analytical firepower on the issue. “It’s a serious problem, a serious threat,” he said.
Adding to concern about Hezbollah was a Times of London artilce Wednesday, based on an interview with a recently defected Syrian army leader. Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu told the paper that the Syrian regime had plans to provide chemical weapons to Hezbollah for use in rocket attacks against Israel.
The regime now has “nothing to lose” in sharing the weapons, he added, “If a war starts between Hezbollah and Israel, it will be only good for Syria.”