Following the withdrawal of all American personnel in August 2021, many warned that radical Islamic terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda would retake Afghanistan and establish an Islamic government against the United States. After the Taliban took over the country in 2021 and established its new Islamic government, the regime began reversing rights for men and women, taking over American military equipment left behind, and strengthening their terrorist fighters. Information and photographs in Kabul at the time revealed the Taliban transporting American military equipment to the terrorist-based Islamic Republic of Iran. After the death of senior Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul this year, many of those fears were confirmed, indicating that the terrorist group responsible for the September 11 attack had returned to Afghanistan. According to experts, by allowing Al Qaeda safe refuge in Afghanistan, the terrorist group can train recruits for their terrorist organization and plan terrorist operations against American interests.
Following the Syrian Civil War in 2011, the country has had various Islamic terrorist groups outside foreign countries leading to the nation’s fragmentation. According to a recent report from Task & Purpose, the Islamic State (ISIS) has consolidated its control in different parts of the country, detaining ordinary civilians and children in cities like Al-Hasakah. According to information from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), around 25,000 children are held in the Kurdish-run Al-Hol detention refugee camp in Syria, a prime target for ISIS radicalization. Between August and September this year, American-backed Syrian forces arrested 300 suspected ISIS fighters inside the al-Hol camp and captured 55 pounds of explosives and 25 hand grenades. While ISIS has lost the last bit of territory it controlled four years ago, the group continues to fight, launching 74 attacks in Syria between July and September. In Damascus, the Assad government has allowed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to flourish, training future fighters and transporting weaponry from Damascus to Lebanon and the Gaza Strip against Israel.
According to reports by CENTCOM, there are currently around 10,000 suspected ISIS fighters in Iraq, with elements of the group conducting attacks against American troops and Iraqi civilians. Following the parliamentary elections in Iraq this year, various Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups have grown in strengthening, radicalizing, and training new followers to join their cause against American influence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran have also had their hands in Iraq, increasing the number of weapons, ammunition, and training for various Shiite-based terrorist groups like Khatib Hezbollah. In Baghdad, officials from the IRGC have helped provide military assistance like rockets, guns, ammunition, missiles, mortars, and intelligence to terrorist groups and smuggling resources throughout the Middle East. With their resources, many of these groups have spread their tentacles in places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, attacking Arab civilians and American-backed regional allies. According to CENTCOM officials, Iraqi security forces are still working to enhance their own capabilities needed to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence fusion.
Despite international sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran is still the number one terrorist-sponsoring state in the Middle East and abroad. Under the leadership of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the regime has funneled resources to the IRGC, building up new military drone and naval capabilities inside and outside Tehran. Even as the regime in Tehran faces protests, the Ayatollahs continue to funnel resources to the IRGC and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Gaza, strengthening its tentacles against American, Israeli, and regional forces. Recently, pro-Islamic government media outlet bragged about the regime’s “integrated missile network” and how it has armed terrorist groups in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Yemen to attack Israeli and Arab civilians.
In 2022, the Lebanese Shiite Terrorist group, Hezbollah, received hundreds of new military and economic resources from the Islamic Republic of Iran in its operations against the Jewish state of Israel. Throughout this year, Hezbollah, under Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, has helped train Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas to Palestinian Islamic Jihad to attack Israeli civilians and launch rocket attacks against Israel and its military. The terrorist group has been and continues to be active in Southern Lebanon while also having a presence in Syria along with IRGC officials and troops. After the U.S.-brokered a maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon, Hezbollah agreed to the deal, with many experts noting that it allowed the terrorist entity access to energy resources. With protests ongoing in Iran, reports show that Hezbollah has sent its forces to help crack down on the protesters and secure the regime’s stability. In Latin America, leftist candidates in Colombia and Brazil went on to win, strengthening Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America and its activities, like drug and weapon smuggling.
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