6 Lessons Learned: Policy

An Overview of Iranian State-Supported Terrorism

Post the 1979 revolution in Iran, the country’s officials deployed assassins to eliminate dissidents there. This terrorism expanded outside Iran’s borders.

Funding Terrorist Organizations

U.S. Marine and Embassy locations were bombed in 1983 by Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah. More than 300 people were killed. Most Americans had lost their lives to Hezbollah than from that of any other international organization, at least before the attacks of 9/11.

The groups backed by Iran didn’t only commit acts of terror on Americans. They attacked dissidents in Europe and those who supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war.

In 1996, an Iranian-backed group exploded a truck full of explosives in front of Saudi Arabia’s Khobar Tower, which was a housing unit for military. Approximately 400 people were wounded and 19 were killed. Iran is considered an active participant in sponsoring terrorism and supports groups like Hamas.


Israel is considered Iran’s biggest threat, and Tehran backs a number of Palestinian groups who commit violence against Israel. These attacks have a mission: They push a narrative of opposition to the concept of a Jewish state. Not only do these events give Iran preeminence in the Middle East, the violence also negates the peace process, guaranteeing that Iran is less segregated in the region.

Financing International Terrorism

The leaders of Hezbollah have received financial aid from Iran that has directly influenced the group’s popularity in the Arab world, therefore helping Iran to remain less isolated.
It remains unknown to what degree Iran has connections with Sunni jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaida.

The U.S. Role

Iran cooperated after September 11 with United States to transfer jihadists to their place of origin to face trials. However, Iran’s openness there is suspect.Although Iranian officials say they have Sunni extremists monitored, they have refused to turn them over to international courts. This has produced friction between the United States and Iran. This is also a concern as U.S. troops remain in Iraq. U.S. forces in Iraq may be exposed to a terrorist attack fueled by Iranian leaders. Click for more information here.

A Possible Terrorist Bombing on U.S. Soil

It’s not impossible that Iran would sponsor an attack on the U.S. homeland.
A strike on U.S. soil is acknowledged by Iran as a not-so-intelligent move. According to the FBI, Hezbollah works to fund raise in America for its causes.

Iran lust after advantages.
The country is a marginal economic leader and its military is in duress.

That said, Iranian-sponsored terrorism pushes Israel into conflict, helps them gain access to Iraq for the long term, and causes hostility between themselves and the United States. It’s a possibility that Iran will relinquish its role as a funder of Hezbollah. It may also become a cooperative player in Iraq.

Smart Ideas: Support Revisited

The Best Advice About Iran I’ve Ever Written