Iran’s elite Quds Force and Hezbollah militants are learning from a series of botched terror attacks over the past two years and pose a growing threat to the U.S. and other Western targets as well as Israel, a prominent counterterrorism expert says. Operating both independently and together, the militant groups are escalating their activities around the world, fueling worries in the U.S. that they increasingly have the ability and the willingness to attack the U.S., according to a report by Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. His report points to two attacks last year – one successful and one foiled by U.S. authorities – as indications that the militants are adapting and are determined to take revenge on the West for efforts to disrupt Tehran’s nuclear program and other perceived offenses.
The report’s conclusions expand on comments late last year from U.S. terrorism officials who told Congress that the Quds Force and Hezbollah, which often coordinate efforts, have become “a significant source of concern” for the U.S. The Quds Force is an elite wing of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, the defenders of Iran’s ruling clerics and their hold on power. The report comes amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the West, including a persistent stalemate over scheduling six-party talks on Tehran’s nuclear program and anger over reports that the U.S. and Israel were behind the Stuxnet computer attack that forced the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010.