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Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil

Testimony before House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management

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CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb testifies before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management: Read this testimony (CAP Action)

Chairman Meehan, Ranking Member Speier, Chairman McCaul, Ranking Member Keating, and distinguished members of the subcommittees, thank you for inviting me to testify about the Iranian government’s alleged plans to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil. This event comes at a critical time in U.S.-Iranian relations, and it is imperative that the United States not overreact but respond rationally and effectively. In this testimony, I will discuss how the United States can best respond to Iran in order to protect and defend our national security and our interests in the Middle East and across the globe in this age of terrorism, tyrants, and weapons of mass destruction.

First, I would begin by congratulating our agents at the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. This case is a victory for law enforcement and a testament to the hard work done every day by the men and women at these two agencies to keep our country safe from terrorists with a global reach.

As you all know, in recent years, Iran has repeatedly worked against the interests of the United States and the international community. In addition to this most recent plot—Iran’s boldest but also most poorly executed effort to harm the United States and its allies—Iran is a known sponsor of terrorism and has pursued an illicit nuclear program in defiance of the international community. For example, just last spring, the Treasury Department announced it had uncovered evidence that Iran was funneling money and recruits to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Additionally, Iran’s decision to enrich uranium to 20 percent—far more than the 3.5 percent necessary to produce nuclear energy—as well as its decision to store this fuel in an underground bunker suggests that its nuclear program is not designed solely for peaceful purposes. In short, the planned assassination of the Saudi ambassador is merely the latest example of hostile behavior by Iran.

The question now facing the United States is how best to respond. Over the past two weeks, it has been gratifying to hear warnings from both sides of the aisle about the perils of reckless military action. Political leaders from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have urged restraint.

In the past, unthinking military action by the United States has strengthened Iran’s hand. Iran is perhaps the clearest winner from our mindless, needless, senseless invasion and occupation of Iraq. The war allowed Iran to capitalize on the overwhelming anti-American sentiment generated throughout the Arab and Muslim world by our invasion of Iraq under false pretenses.

CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb testifies before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management: Read this testimony (CAP Action)

Lawrence J. Korb is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

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