(VOA Editorial)  (450)

(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America April 29,

reflecting the views of the U.S. government.)

According to James Woolsey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency,

state-sponsored terrorism is "the most important component of the

international terrorism problem."  In recent testimony before members of

the U.S. Congress, Woolsey noted that, "Nation states make terrorists more

lethal and more ambitious."

Six countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Cuba and North Korea -- are

listed by the U.S. State Department as sponsors of international terrorism.

 Woolsey warned that "while state-sponsored terrorism has decreased in

recent years, none of the countries on this list has forsworn terrorism as

a foreign policy tool.  Each can readily conduct or sponsor international

attacks, and each maintains ties to violent groups."

Woolsey said that Iran is "by far the most active and dangerous state

sponsor" of international terrorism.  Indeed, Iranian-backed terrorist

attacks have become more common.  While some people depict a "moderate"

post-Khomeini Iran, Tehran and its surrogates have carried out more than 35

terrorist acts since 1989; at least 20 of these occurred in 1992.  Iran

continues to call for the murder of British author Salman Rushdie.  Iran's

agents also "stalk and murder Iranian oppositionists abroad."  Woolsey said

the United States believes that, "Tehran arranged for the murders of a

leading opposition politician, gunned down in Rome in 1993; an anti-regime

poet, struck down in Bonn in 1992; and four members of the Kurdish

Democratic party of Iran, killed in a Berlin restaurant in 1992."  An

Iranian national is among those now under arrest for the Berlin murders.

Woolsey pointed out that Iran has also "strengthened ties to radical

Palestinian terrorists who share Iran's long-term goal of destroying

Israel."  Terrorist groups supported by Iran include the Popular Front for

the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, the Palestine Islamic Jihad,

and the Palestinian fundamentalist group Hamas.  In Lebanon, Iran provides

military and financial support to Hizballah, which "now poses a greater

threat to U.S. and Western interests than any other Middle Eastern

terrorist group."  The Iranian leadership has also endorsed violence by

religious extremists in North Africa.  In July 1992, Tehran applauded the

assassination of Algerian president Mohamed Boudiaf.

1nternational cooperation and the resolve of democratic nations have proven

effective in reducing and preventing the spread of international terrorism.

 But as Woolsey warned, "terrorism -- conducted by both states and groups

-- remains a serious and unpredictable threat to U.S. citizens and

interests."  For that reason, said Woolsey, the United States "will

continue vigorously to monitor and combat the terrorist threat."