US State Department Downplays Iran’s Role In Latin America


Iran is not supporting active terrorist cells in the Western Hemisphere, according to a State Department report set to be released this week that is likely to ignite a major battle with Capitol Hill.

Although the number of Iranian officials operating in Latin America has increased in recent years, Tehran has far less influence and activities than some congressional Republicans have suggested, sources familiar with the report said.

The analysis found no reliable information pointing to imminent Iranian-backed terrorist plots in the Western Hemisphere, said sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secretive nature of the report and because it had not yet been sent to Congress.

The State Department declined to comment on the document, which is expected to be delivered to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward Royce, California Republican, at the end of this week.

The findings are likely to baffle lawmakers who pushed legislation that mandated the State Department to produce the report, along with a strategy for countering “Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere.”

Support for the legislation rose after the Justice Department claimed in 2011 that Iran attempted to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate a Saudi diplomat by bombing a Washington restaurant.

An Iranian-American was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring in the plot with the Iranian military.

Mr. Duncan, who worked with Rep. Brian Higgins, New York Democrat, in pushing legislation that mandated the report, said State Department officials have privately “played down” the Latin American activities of Iran and Hezbollah — the Tehran-backed Shiite terrorist organization.

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