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Congressional Report Fingers Iran As Main Sponsor of Militant Groups

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A congressional study on Middle Eastern terrorism accuses Iran of backing militant groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

But the report, “Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Recent Developments, Sources of Support and Implications for U.S. Policy,” fails to shed new light on other sources of support for the fundamentalist Islamic groups.

Released last week by the Congressional Research Service, the report is intended as a tool for members of Congress to make informed decisions about Middle East policy. CRS is known on Capitol Hill to give impartial and unbiased facts.

“The Congressional Research is our gospel,” one congressional aide said. “It’s the best resource we have.”

The 15-page report reads like a research paper, recounting recent news reports and policy statements by U.S. officials on Middle East terrorism.

“It is increasingly clear that Iran provides funding to the Islamic Palestinian groups, although the funding levels are not known,” the report states.

While Hamas and Islamic Jihad get funds from Iran, the terrorist groups also receive money from other more moderate Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, according to the report.

“As the ultimate guarantor of Persian Gulf security, the United States can exercise substantial leverage on the Gulf states to persuade them to restrict private contributions to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the report concludes.

The report found that Syria may be providing funding for Islamic Jihad, but there are no official U.S. allegations of Syrian funding for Hamas.

Congressional staffers say that the report could be useful in answering constituent mail and formulating policy.

For example, if a constituent protested that Hamas is not a terrorist group but a humanitarian organization, lawmakers could turn to the report for a response, an aide said.

The report says that while Hamas “provides food, medical treatment and supplies, and education to the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank,” the government considers Hamas a terrorist group and is seeking to cut off its funding both abroad and in the United States.

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