Post the 1979 revolution in Iran, the country’s officials deployed assassins to eliminate dissidents there. Those killings weren’t the only acts of terror.
The Role of Hezbollah
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.
Americans weren’t the only group to be attacked by an organization supported by Iran. They committed terrorist attacks by killing dissidents in Europe, and murdered those that showed support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war.
Terrorists connected to Iran blew up Saudi Arabia’s Khobar Tower in 1996. The bomb killed 19 and left 400 people wounded. Despite the passing of time, Iran is still considered one of the most deadly state sponsor of terrorism.
Violence Against Israel
Israel is considered Iran’s biggest threat, and Tehran backs a number of Palestinian groups who commit violence against Israel. The attacks have a purpose: They promote the idea that Israel should not exist. The violence also serves to terminate the peace process, which makes Iran less isolated in the Arab world.
Financing International Terrorism
As a direct consequence of its assistance to Hezbollah, Iran has aided the organization and the popularity of its leaders, which have more loyalty among Middle Easterners than do elected officials.
U.S. officials are unclear as to the extent of which Iran has affiliations with Sunni jihadist networks associated 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. Iran is not consistent on this topic.Iranian officials have said they are watching and can identify Sunni extremists, but they have not sent these individuals to face prosecution for their crimes. This has produced friction between the United States and Iran. American military presence in Iraq could be problematic for the Iranians. U.S. military officials have worried that the U.S. presence in Iraq leaves American troops at risk for an Iranian-backed terrorist attack. Click for more information here.
Iranian-Supported Terrorism in the United States
It’s less likely that Iran would finance a terrorist attack in the United States, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
A strike on U.S. soil is acknowledged by Iran as a not-so-intelligent move. Regardless, Hezbollah has still raised capital on the United States.
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 possible Iran will limit its role with Hezbollah. It may also become a cooperative player in Iraq.