Yesterday — July 31 — the Department of State released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism. In a media briefing at which the report was publicly released Daniel Benjamin, State’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, noted that despite the killing of bin-Laden and other successful operations against al-Qaeda:
…Terrorists could still cause to significant disruptions for states undergoing very challenging democratic transitions. The report’s narrative notes, among other things, the continued weakening of the al-Qaida core in Pakistan, but it also demonstrates that the al-Qaida affiliates, while also suffering losses, increased their overall operational ability. And this is particularly true of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. So for all the counterterrorism successes that we’ve seen against al-Qaida and its affiliates, the group and violent extremist ideology and rhetoric continue to spread in some parts of the world.
The report also notes that al-Qaida and its affiliates are not the only terrorist threat that the United States faces. We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities as they’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year and engaging in – and are engaging in their most active and aggressive campaigns since the 1990s. Iran’s use of terrorism as an instrument of policy was exemplified, as you’re all aware, by the involvement of elements of the Iranian Government in the 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador here in Washington.