Iran’s Complicated Web of Terror

Happy Friday! We can’t really blame the elephants and bison at the Berlin Zoo for getting a jump on clearing out holiday decorations by chowing down on some unused Christmas trees—it is the 12th Day of Christmas, after all.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Russia is planning to purchase short-range ballistic missiles from Iran, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal that was confirmed by U.S. officials on Thursday. The missiles could bolster the Russian military’s attacks on Ukraine, as missile and drone strikes targeting Kyiv and other population centers have escalated in recent days. Declassified U.S. intelligence suggests that Russian forces have deployed missiles secured from North Korea in at least two attacks in Ukraine. “Our information indicates that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently provided Russia with ballistic missile launchers and several ballistic missiles,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters yesterday. “Russia is relying upon its friends to replenish its military stockpiles and enable its war against Ukraine.” 
  • The Islamic State on Thursday claimed responsibility for the explosions the day prior at a ceremony in Kerman, Iran, commemorating the fourth anniversary of the killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani. The terror group said that two of its members detonated explosive belts in an attack that, according to Iranian officials, killed 84 people and wounded 220. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condemned the attack and said there would be a “harsh response.”
  • The U.S. military executed a drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, killing one of the leaders of an Iranian-backed terrorist militia group that has taken credit for multiple attacks on U.S. forces. Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba acknowledged that one of its deputy commanders—Mushtaq Jawad Kazim al-Jawari, also known as Abu Taqwa—was killed yesterday. The Defense Department said Abu Taqwa was “actively involved in planning and carrying out” attacks on American forces, and Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the strike “was taken in self-defense.” The Iraqi government condemned the strike, and one spokesperson described it as “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and security of Iraq.” The U.S. operation follows more than 100 attacks on American forces in Iraq and Syria in recent months.
  • Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released a staff report and financial records on Thursday claiming that former President Donald Trump received at least $7.8 million from foreign governments while he was president, including $5.5 million from “the Chinese government and Chinese state-owned enterprises” through his businesses, primarily his real estate and hotel interests. “Each dollar former President Trump accepted violated the Constitution’s strict prohibition on payments from foreign governments,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking member on the Oversight Committee, alleged in a statement yesterday. The report also argued that Trump’s businesses expanded their trademark portfolio in China during his presidency and failed to disclose the trademarks during that time. The Trump Organization said that the profits made from foreign sources were donated to the U.S. Treasury.
  • A 17-year-old student shot six people Thursday morning at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa—a small town northwest of Des Moines—killing one sixth grader and wounding four other students and an administrator before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. One of the five wounded victims remained in critical condition as of yesterday afternoon. 

Taking Tehran to Task  

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits the grave of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani on January 05, 2024, days after two explosions ripped through a crowded area on the anniversary of Suleimani's death. (Photo by Iranian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits the grave of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani on January 05, 2024, days after two explosions ripped through a crowded area on the anniversary of Suleimani's death. (Photo by Iranian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

They say history is cyclical—and once again, in the early days of 2024, world leaders are carefully navigating a tense situation fraught with the risk of unintended consequences. One false move, misinterpreted action, or instance of perceived weakness could result in a global conflict spiraling out of control. In fact, incoming Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has already claimed Israel is “at the height of World War III.”

Hamas’ October 7 attack sparked a war between Israel and the terrorist group in Gaza, but increasing regional aggression led by Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” threatens to engulf the Middle East in a wider war. At the center of this conflict—as is often the case when discussing turmoil in the region—is Iran, which finds itself under the gun of an Israel with nothing to lose and a United States that, after months of provocations, seems to finally be running out of patience.

The first week of 2024 saw major escalations in the Middle East, as The Dispatch’s Charlotte Lawson explained on Wednesday:

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