President Barack Obama’s appointees have airbrushed Iran out of the terror section of the 2015 annual report on national security threats, just as he tries to negotiate a nuclear weapons deal with Iran’s theocratic leaders.
The 2015 “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” excludes Iran and its network of jihadi groups who are motivated by Islam’s Shia sect, from the report’s terror section.
Instead, the assessment focuses entirely jihadis motivated by the Sunni sect of Islam, including those in al-Qaida and ISIS, sometimes known as the Islamic State.
“Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history,” the report admits.
That’s a big shift from 2014, when Iran’s network of jihadis — chiefly, the Hezbollah army in Lebanon — got their own subsection.
“Iran and Hizballah – Outside of the Syrian theater, Iran and Lebanese Hizballah continue to directly threaten the interests of US allies. Hizballah has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s,” said the 2014 report.
Non-government experts say Iran has funded and directed many terror attacks, including hundreds of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, on Jews in Israel and even a huge bomb against a Jewish site in Argentina.
During 2014, Iran and Hezbollah stepped up their roles in the Syrian and Iraqi wars, where they’re fighting the Syria-based Sunni jihad groups.
The airbrushed 2015 report was released as GOP leaders step up their rhetorical opposition to Obama’s push for a strategic deal with Iraq. Meanwhile, Obama is trying to minimize the Senate’s role in crafting and approving the new strategic alliance.
According to various reports, the potential 10-year deal is aimed at preventing Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon in exchange for loosened sanctions, but its framework has yet to address the future of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and enriched uranium, or the country’s development of long-range missiles.
Iran’s nuclear program is already fueling a nuclear arms race in the region, partly because the rival Sunni powers — such as Saudi Arabia — fear that Iran would use nuclear weapons to threaten its neighbors.
Israel’s leaders fear a nuclear arms race would eventually allow jihadi groups to grab and use nuclear weapons against Jews.
The threat of an Iranian nuclear force began getting much more publicity in the United States when U.S. congressional leaders invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.
Last year’s report highlighted Iran’s use of the Hezbollah army to defend Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad, and to threaten the region’s only democracy, Israel.
“Iran and Hizballah are committed to defending the Asad regime. … Iran and Hizballah view the Asad regime as a key partner in the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel and are prepared to take major risks to preserve the regime as well as their critical transshipment routes,” said the 2014 report.
All that has been airbrushed from the 2015 report, which was quietly sent to the Hill in late February.
There’s only one mention of Hezbollah in the 2015 report, which describes Hezbollah as defending Lebanon from Sunni jihadis, despite Hezbollah’s large armory of rockets, its past attacks on Israel and its repeated threats to destroy Israel.
“Sunni extremists are trying to establish networks in Lebanon and have increased attacks against Lebanese army and Hizballah positions along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Lebanon potentially faces a protracted conflict in northern and eastern parts of the country from extremist groups seeking to seize Lebanese territory, supplies, and hostages.”
Iran gets 41 mentions in the 2014 assessment — nearly all of them negative — and 40 mentions in the 2015 assessment, which talks about terrorism, cyber threats, nuclear development and other national security areas.
Outside the terrorism section, most mentions of Iran in the 2015 report are negative.
For example, the 2015 report blames Iran for cyber attacks in the United States. “Iranian actors have been implicated in the 2012-13 [backer] attacks against US financial institutions and in the February 2014 cyber attack on the Las Vegas Sands casino company.”
“Iran’s intelligence and security services continue to view the United States as a primary threat and have stated publicly that they monitor and counter US activities in the region,” the report says.
The 2015 report says Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons, but adds that its leaders have not decided to actually build the weapons, despite the huge economic cost they’ve already endured by building up Iran’s nuclear facilities in the face of international opposition and painful economic sanctions.
“We continue to assess that Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. … We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” says the report.
But Iran can build nukes, the report warns. “We also continue to assess that Iran does not face any insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon, making Iran’s political will the central issue. … We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” the report says.
But the 2015 report praises Obama’s strategic deal-making with Iran. “Iranian implementation of the [November 2013] Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) has at least temporarily inhibited further progress in its uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities and effectively eliminated Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium,” the report says.
“The agreement has also enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities, mainly through improved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access and earlier warning of any effort to make material for nuclear weapons using its safeguarded facilities,” the report says.