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October 5, 2018 3:03 pm

Trump Administration’s Counterterrorism Strategy Stresses Continued Threats from Iran, ISIS

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Gen. Qassem Soleimani (center), commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s IRGC, with Shia militias in Syria. Photo: ABN News Agency

US President Donald Trump’s administration has released its “America First” national security strategy, highlighting the Iranian regime and Sunni Islamist terrorist organizations like ISIS as the main threats to US and global security.

The National Strategy for Counterterrorism document, published on Tuesday, said that “ISIS remains the foremost radical Islamist terrorist group and the primary transnational terrorist threat to the United States, despite ongoing United States and coalition civilian and military efforts that have diminished the group’s footprint in Iraq and Syria, killed thousands of its members, and curtailed its global expansion.”

The strategy asserted that ISIS “remains robust, with eight official branches and more than two dozen networks regularly conducting terrorist and insurgent operations across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.” It also pointed to the group’s “sophisticated and durable media and online presence that allows it to encourage and enable sympathizers worldwide to conduct dozens of attacks within target countries, including the United States.”

Terrorist attacks by ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups “will probably remain the most frequent form of radical Islamist terrorism in the United States for the next several years,” the strategy forecast.

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The document held up the Iranian regime as “the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism, supporting militant and terrorist groups across the Middle East and cultivating a network of operatives that pose a threat in the United States and globally.”

“These groups, most notably Lebanese Hezbollah, use terrorism and other asymmetric means in partnership with Iran to expand their influence in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Syria, and Yemen and to destabilize their rivals,” it said.

The strategy emphasized that Hezbollah – Iran’s Lebanese Shia proxy that joined Iranian and Russian forces in defending President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria – “fields powerful military and intelligence elements, possesses large stocks of sophisticated arms, and maintains extensive networks of operatives and sympathizers overseas, including individuals in the homeland.”

Attention was also focused on what was called “a broad range of revolutionary, nationalist, and separatist movements overseas whose use of violence and intent to destabilize societies often puts American lives at risk.” Two white supremacist groups with supporters in the US and Europe – the Nordic Resistance Movement and the National Action Group – were named for their incitement against left-wing politicians, Muslims, and other minorities.

The leading Jewish civil rights organization in the US on Friday praised the counterterrorism strategy for its “strong focus on countering Iran’s destructive influence as the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism,” as well as its observation that “right-wing extremists, like white supremacists and anti-government extremists, are on the rise.”

“At a time of increased hate crimes and attacks on immigrants and refugees, we hope that in the course of implementing this strategy, building trust will also be prioritized and civil rights and liberties will be protected,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. Greenblatt also urged the administration “not to undermine their strategy by continuing to scapegoat Muslims, refugees, immigrants, and other marginalized communities.”

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