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Since the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the government of Iran has been accused by a number of states, including the United States, Israel and some European countries, of funding, providing equipment, weapons, training and giving sanctuary to terrorists.[1]

The United States State Department lists Iran as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice elaborated stating, “Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories, and we have deep concerns about what Iran is doing in the south of Iraq.” [1]


Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps

Ayatollah Khomeini arrives in Iran

After the fall of the Shah, the Islamic Republic of Iran established the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC - Pasdaran-e Inqilab) to domestically promote the government's social policy. The organization also is accused of spreading its ideology in neighboring regions by training and funding "terrorist organizations". By 1986 the group had 350,000 members and had acquired a small naval and air force. By 1996 the ground forces numbered 100,000 and the naval forces numbered 20,000. They are believed to use the proxy Al Quds Force to train the Islamic militants. Currently Al Quds conducts training units in Iran and Sudan.[2]

The Pasdaran also is believed to have connections with underground organizations in the Middle East. They have a strong influence on groups in Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. The largest group of Pasdaran connections is made up of 12,000 Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis, Lebanese Shiites and North Africans who either received training in Iran or during the Afghan War and are presently trained in Sudan, Lebanon, and Iran. The party of Hezbollah is included in this group which provides intelligence, logistics and operational units in Lebanon. The second largest operation relates to Kurds, particularly Iraqi Kurds. The third largest is made up of Kashmiris, Balouchis and Afghans.

Pasdaran supports Hezbollah operations in Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and Palestine and the Islamic Jihad in Egypt, Turkey, and Caucasia.

In 1995 the Iranian Revolutionary Guard held a conference with worldwide organizations accused of engaging in terrorism including the Japanese Red Army, the Armenian Secret Army, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the Iraqi Da'wah Party, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain and Hezbollah in Beirut for the sole purpose of providing training to these organizations supposedly to help in the destabilization of Gulf States and aid assistance to militants in these countries to replace the existing governments with Iran-like regimes.[2]

The United States State Department claims that this organization provides support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad in Israel. They also say that Pasadaran has given much support and training to terrorists supporting the Palestinian resistance. They are also accused of aiding the Iraqi insurgency in southern Iraq.[2] On September 26, 2007, the United States Senate passed legislation by a vote of 76-22 designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.[3] U.S. President George W. Bush and Congress labeled the group under the guidelines established by Executive Order 13224 issued after the September 11, 2001 attacks.[4]

Ministry of Intelligence and Security

Iran is believed to use the Ministry of Intelligence and Security to gather intelligence to plan terrorist attacks. The ministry is believed to use liaison activities with supported terrorist groups and Islamic fundamentalist movements. The ministry itself is believed to carry out some terrorism mostly directed at political dissidents.[5]


Mykonos restaurant assassinations

In 17 September 1992, Iranian-Kurdish insurgent leaders Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan and their translator Nouri Dehkordi were assassinated at the Mykonos Greek restaurant in Berlin, Germany.

In the Mykonos trial, the courts found Kazem Darabi, an Iranian national who worked as a grocer in Berlin, and Lebanese Abbas Rhayel, guilty of murder and sentenced them to life in prison. Two other Lebanese, Youssef Amin and Mohamed Atris, were convicted of being accessories to murder. In its 10 April 1997 ruling, the court issued an international arrest warrant for Iranian intelligence minister Hojjat al-Islam Ali Fallahian[6] after declaring that the assassination had been ordered by him with knowledge of supreme leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and president Ayatollah Rafsanjani [7]

Capture of American hostages

On November 4, 1979, 500 Iranians stormed the American Embassy and took 90 employees and visitors captive. They later released non-Americans, women and African-Americans, and held the 52 remaining Americans hostage for 444 days. The Americans would hold an embargo against Iran and demanded that the hostages be freed. Iran demanded unblocking of Iran's frozen assets in the United States ($24 billion) to release the hostages. Iran also demanded U.S. based Shah of Iran to be arrested and given back to Iran. They would later agree to accept $8 billion in frozen assets in exchange for the release of the hostages.

In 2000 the former hostages would sue the Iranian government for state sponsored terrorism under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act. They would win the suit but would not be awarded damages because of a 2002 judgement that the terms of their release barred awarding any damages.[8]


President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy show respect to the victims of 1983 barracks bombing
Flag of Hezbollah


During the 1980s and 1990s, a wave of kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations of Western targets, particularly American and Israeli, occurred in Lebanon and other countries. Claiming responsibility for these 200 attacks that lead to at least 800 deaths, was the "organization" of Islamic Jihad. The attacks, attributed to the group, have included:

  • The blowing up of a van filled with explosives in front of the U.S. embassy in Beirut killing 58 Americans and Lebanese in 1983.
  • The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing of the U.S. Marine and French 'Drakkar' barracks which killed 241 American and 58 French peacekeepers.
  • The hijacking of TWA flight 847 holding the 39 Americans on board hostage for weeks in 1985
  • The bombing of the Israeli Embassy killing twenty-nine in 1992
  • The bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina killing 95 in 1994

Islamic Jihad is widely believed to be a nom de guerre of the Lebanese Islamist political movement and social service agency Hezbollah, which was founded in 1982 with many millions of dollars of aid and considerable training and logistical support from the Islamic Republic. Many believe the group promotes the Iranian agenda and that its goal is to overthrow the moderate governments in the area and create Islamic Republics based on that of Iran as well as the destruction of Israel.[1]

Its motives include assassinations, kidnappings, and guerilla warfare. Other attacks credited to Hezbollah include:

  • The attack on the Khobar Towers housing complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S servicemen in 1996.
  • Firing of 100s of rockets into northern Israel on a daily basis and capture of Israeli soldiers in 2006[9]

Henry Crumpton, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism stated, “[Iran is] clearly directing a lot of Hezbollah actions. Hezbollah asks their permission to do things, especially if it has broader international implications.” However it seemed that when reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami took office in 1996 the Iran-Hezbollah connection declined.[10] But some commentators believe that the election of the current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has increased Iranian support for the group.[11]

In addition to the millions of dollars a year Iran provides to Hezbollah are weapons such as mortars, Sagger anti-tank guided missiles, mines, explosives and small arms. Iran is believed to train Hezbollah mostly by its al-Quds force in its “Imam Ali” base in northern Tehran. [12]


Iran (along with 34 other nations) does not recognize the State of Israel. Israel claims Iran has a historical connection to military attacks in Israel, lending support to groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. Recently they have been accused of taking control of "many terrorist cells" in Yasser Arafat's Fatah Movement in Palestine and Israel believes they are the architects of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Israeli intelligence believes that Iran controls the majority of terrorism in Israel.[13]

Iran has had public diplomatic relations with Hamas since the 1990s when they invited representatives to attend the Foreign Ministry's institute that studies international and political affairs. In 1992 several million dollars were transferred to Hamas’ account, including money originating from the Iranian “Fund for the Martyrs”, which grants assistance to victims of the “Palestinian Uprising”. [12]

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is considered the most loyal Palestinian group to Iran despite being Sunni. Iran is believed to provide the organization’s activists with logistic support and Iranian identification papers.[12]



Iran has been accused by the United States of giving weapons and support to the Iraqi insurgency. The United States State Department claim that weapons are smuggled into Iraq and used to arm Iran's allies among the Shiite militias, including those of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army.[14] Evidence for this is that weapons, including mortars, rockets and munitions bear Iranian markings. U.S. commanders report that these bombs inflicted 30 percent of all American military casualties in Iraq excluding Anbar province, where these weapons have not been found. Furthermore U.S. intelligence has obtained satellite photographs of three training camps for Iraqi insurgents near Iran's capital where they are allegedly trained guerilla tactics, kidnapping and assassination.[15]

Admiral and United States Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell stated in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations that there is overwhelming evidence that Iran is arming the insurgency in Iraq, "The Iranians today, we have clear evidence, are providing the very weapons that are causing U.S. servicemen and women to die. That’s clear, that’s not refuted, that’s not hawkish, that’s not shaded. That is the fact." He stated that Iran is providing explosively formed projectiles, a deadly weapon to the Shiite militants in Iraq.[16]

During his address to the United States Congress on September 11, 2007, Commanding officer for the United States forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus noted that the multinational forces in Iraq have found that Iran's Quds force has provided training, equipment, funding, and direction to terrorists. “When we captured the leaders of these so-called special groups … and the deputy commander of a Lebanese Hezbollah department that was created to support their efforts in Iraq, we’ve learned a great deal about how Iran has, in fact, supported these elements and how those elements have carried out violent acts against our forces, Iraqi forces and innocent civilians.”[17]


Despite these claims, no supportive evidence has ever been made viewable to the public or press, and while in the past US officials made the claim that the evidence was held in Iraq's possession and it would be up to them to decide whether to reveal it or not, Iraqi officials have claimed on various occasions that in fact no such evidence exists.[18]

At one point in May 2008 the US military was going to present a display to press representatives of alleged Iranian arms seized in Iraq, but had to cancel the showing when it was discovered last minute that none of the weapons actually were of Iranian origin.[19]

A May 2008 TIME article detailed the speculative origins of the US' allegations against Iran[20]

Iran has denied that it supports the Iraqi insurgency, and claims that it is the presence of US troops that aggravates violence. Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, said "For the sake of peace and stability in Iraq we need a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces. Violence in Iraq is good for no country in the region. Security of Iraq is our security and stability in Iraq is a necessity for peace and security in the region."[21] Iran has strong ties with Iraq Shia political groups, and would rather see the Shia dominated government remain in power than have Iraq splinter.[22] Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki has praised Iran for its positive and constructive stance on Iraq, including providing security and fighting terrorism.[23]

Iraqi officials, including Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, have repeatedly stated that US allegations of Iranian weapons smuggling are not shared by them and represent only the US' personal speculation.[24]

Taliban insurgency

U.S. and British officials have accused Iran of giving weapons and support to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.[25][26] Chris Alexander, the deputy United Nations representative to Kabul, has stated that the UN has seen no evidence of this, and that weapons and arms are principally smuggled across the porous Pakistani border.[27] Afghan President Hamid Karzai has praised Iran, saying "we have had, very good, very close relations... so far, Iran has been a helper and a solution".[27]

Mohsen Rezai, former head of the Revolutionary Guards, has claimed that Iran helped to overthrow the Taliban, with Revolutionary Guard troops fighting alongside the Northern Alliance in the months following the September 11, 2001 attacks.[28]

TIME Magazine described Iran as "implacably hostile to the Taliban over that movement's extremist theology and over its killing of Afghan Shiite Muslims. In 1999, Iran almost went to war against the Taliban after its militia killed eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist after capturing a predominantly Shiite town, and has worked together with Russia to support anti-Taliban opposition forces."[29]

The Islamic government of Iran has a hardline policy against drugs. More than 3,000 security personnel have been killed in armed clashes with drug traffickers since the 1979 Islamic revolution.[30] This has often brough the government of Iran into direct conflict with the Taliban, which controls the drug trade in neighbouring Afghanistan, and uses Iran as the first step in transit routes to western Europe.[31]

Other allegations

Along with the above allegations, Iran is also accused of other acts of terrorism. Including:

  • The 1988 murder and kidnapping of Colonel William Higgins in Lebanon.
  • The Fatwa placed on Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses.[1] In April 1996, Mohammad Yazdi, the head of Iran's judiciary stated that "[the fatwah on Rushdie] will finally be carried out someday".
  • Attempting to disrupt the talks at the Madrid Conference in the early 1990s.
    • October 28, 1991 - An American Sergeant's car is detonated in Istanbul, Turkey, the Turkish Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.
    • October 29, 1991 - A rocket is fired at the American Embassy in Beirut. The Revolutionary Arab Forces claimed responsibility in protest against the Peace Process.
    • October 30, 1991 - A rocket is fired at the Spanish Consulate in Zidon.[citation needed]
  • Concerns have been raised in December 2007 by the United States and allies about Iran's involvement in the nation of Nicaragua[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "State Sponsors: Iran". Council of Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  2. ^ a b c "Qods (Jerusalem) Force Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC -Pasdaran-e Inqilab)". 2005-04-26. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  3. ^ "Senate on Iran Revolutionary Guard: Terrorist Organization". Friends Committee on National Legislation. 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  4. ^ "U.S. to Label Iran Revolutionary Guard ‘Terrorists’". Fox News. 2007-08-15.,2933,293285,00.html. Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  5. ^ "Operations Ministry of Intelligence and Security MOIS Vezarat-e Ettela'at va Amniat-e Keshvar VEVAK". FAS. 1997-12-08. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  6. ^ Israel fails to prevent Germany freeing Iranian
  7. ^ Roya Hakakian (2007-10-04). "The End of the Dispensable Iranian". Der Spiegel.,1518,476369,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  8. ^ "Iran Hostage Crisis". Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  9. ^ "Hezbollah". MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  10. ^ William, Beeman (2006-08-15). "Examining Irans ties to Hezbollah". In These Times. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  11. ^ "Understanding the Iran-Hezbollah Connection". United States Institute of Peace. 2006-09. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  12. ^ a b c "Iranian Support of Terrorism". Mission for the Establishment of Human Rights in Iran. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  13. ^ La Guardia, Anton (2004-10-15). "Iran "in control of terrorism in Israel"". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  14. ^ "Chapter 6 -- State Sponsors of Terror Overview". U.S. Department of State. 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  15. ^ Caldwell, Robert (2007-08-03). "Iran and Syria's proxy war in Iraq". Bend Weekly. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  16. ^ Kaplan, Eben (2007-07-28). "McConnell Cites ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ of Iran’s Support for Iraqi Insurgents". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  17. ^ Bowers, Carol (2007-09-11). "Iran Playing ‘Destabilizing Role’ in Iraq". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  18. ^ "Iraqi official says Iran arms evidence not conclusive". Wiredispatch. May 4, 2008. 
  19. ^ "IRAQ: The elusive Iranian weapons". L.A. Times. May 8, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Doubting the Evidence Against Iran". TIME. May 5, 2008.,8599,1737543,00.html. 
  21. ^ U.S., Iran trade barbs in direct talks -
  22. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iraq PM Maliki in Iran for talks
  23. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran urges US pull-out from Iraq
  24. ^ "Talabani: Iran sends no weapon to Iraq". PRESS TV. 17 May 2008. 
  25. ^ "Iran arming Taliban, U.S. claims". CNN. 2007-06-13. 
  26. ^ Mark Townsend (2008-06-22). "Special forces find proof of Iran supplying Taliban with equipment to fight British". The Observer. 
  27. ^ a b UN envoy doubts U.S. assertion Iran arming Afghan insurgents
  28. ^ Barbara Slavin (2005-09-06). "Iran helped overthrow Taliban, candidate says". USA Today. 
  29. ^ Tony Karon (2001-09-18). " Primer: The Taliban and Afghanistan". TIME Magazine.,8599,175372,00.html. 
  30. ^ Gareth Porter (2007-06-20). "U.S.-IRAN: New Arms Claim Reveals Cheney-Military Rift". 
  31. ^ SEBASTIAN ABBOT and NASSER KARIMI. "West links drug war aid to Iranian nuclear impasse". Associated Press. 
  32. ^ Bensman, Todd (2007-12-18). "Iran's push into Nicaragua a worry for U.S., allies". San Antonio Express News. Retrieved 2007-12-24. 

External links

  • REALITE-EU Iran’s Arsenal and Arms Support for Terrorist Groups [1].
  • Gareth Porter, Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up, The Nation, posted January 18, 2008 (web only), [2].
  • Nir Rosen, Selling the War with Iran, The Washington Note, Thursday, May 1 2008, [3].


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