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US cites rise in Iran-backed and white supremacist attacks

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is claiming significant victories against global terrorism but says Iran continues to increase its support for extremists and that white supremacist attacks are on the rise.

The State Department said Wednesday in its annual report on terrorism that “dangerous terrorist threats persisted” throughout 2019 even as the Islamic State group suffered losses in Iraq and Syria, and the United States imposed sanctions and took other steps against Iran and its proxies in the Middle East.

The report cited a surge in extremist groups affiliating themselves with IS in Africa and Southeast Asia and said Iran continued to foment terrorism. In addition, it noted a rise deadly racially motivated attacks claimed by or attributed to white supremacists as well as the threat from the remnants of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Despite losing territory and its leader, IS "adapted to continue the fight from its affiliates across the globe and by inspiring followers to commit attacks,” the report said. “The Iranian regime and its proxies continued to plot and commit terrorist attacks on a global scale.”

The report said Iran, IS and al-Qaida endured serious setbacks in 2019. Those included the killings of several top leaders and the imposition of tough penalties against Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and supporters and financiers of both.

Apart from extremist Islamic groups, the report said attacks committed by white nationalists are of particular concern.

“The threat posed by racially or ethnically motivated terrorism, particularly white supremacist terrorism, remained a serious challenge for the global community,” it said. The report noted numerous such attacks in 2019, including in New Zealand, Germany and the United States.