Washington: There is a link between Iran and terrorist operations in India, Thailand and Georgia, top American intelligence officials have said, warning that expansion of terror activity sponsored by the Iranian government poses a threat to America.
"In so far as certainly we've seen Iranian influence in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but we have also seen links between Iran and terrorist operations in India, Thailand, Georgia," Matthew Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said at a Congressional hearing.
"So it is a threat that's posed beyond the immediate region of Iran," Mr Olsen said in response to a question from Senator Joe Lieberman on the threat being posed by Iran.
"To what extent now this expansion of terrorist activity sponsored by the Iranian government rises as a threat to our homeland, among the other terrorist threats to our homeland?" Mr Lieberman asked.
"I would consider it to be a significant source of concern for us, both Iran and, again, its terrorist element the Quds force, as well as the group that it coordinates with, Lebanese Hezbollah," Mr Olsen said.
Kevin Perkins, Associate Deputy FBI Director said that Quds force, Hezbollah and others have shown they both have the capability and the willingness to extend beyond that region of the world and likely here into the homeland itself.
"We look at it as a very serious problem. We look at it as a serious threat, and that we are focusing intelligence analysts and other resources on that on a daily basis to monitor that threat and to make determinations is it increasing, is it dropping off and the like.
They have the capability and they have the willingness to do that which is two very important steps," he said. Mr Olsen said Iran remains the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism in the world.
"And over the past year, the threat from Iranian-sponsored terrorism has increased. Inside the United States, we remain vigilant to prevent violent extremists from carrying out attacks in the name of Al Qaeda," he said.
Story first published:
September 20, 2012 11:41 IST