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Iran expected to unleash terror if attacked: Report

Meanwhile, the US President has said he is pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 09:31 IST

US intelligence experts believe Iran would respond to US military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide,

The Washington Post

reported in its Sunday edition.

Citing unnamed experts, the newspaper said Iran would first mount attacks against US targets inside Iraq and then target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

US officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the US intelligence apparatus, the report quotes one senior official as saying.

Citing prohibitions against discussing classified information, US intelligence officials declined to say whether they have detected preparatory measures, such as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message traffic, on the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives, The Post said.

However, terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- its intelligence operatives, Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organised, trained and equipped than the Al-Qaeda network, the report pointed out.

The Iranian government views Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah's military wing, "as an extension of their state," the paper quotes Ambassador Henry Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, as saying. "Operational teams could be deployed without a long period of preparation."

US President George W Bush has said he is pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme, but he has added that all options are on the table.

Government officials said their interest in Iran's intelligence services is not an indication that a military confrontation is imminent or likely, but rather a reflection of a decades-long adversarial relationship, in which Iran's agents have worked secretly against US interests, most recently in Iraq and Pakistan, The Post said.