Background: Last April, talks came to a “successful” end on the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Setting aside the fact that the agreement will likely make it easier for Iran to build nuclear weapons, what’s more troubling in the short term is that the deal has freed upwards of $100 billion in cash and assets for the Iranian government. It’s estimated that Iran spends between $3.5 – $16 billion annually, financing terrorism worldwide. That amount is likely to increase, given access to new financial assets and opportunities. U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials have repeatedly stated that some of the sanctions relief money will be used to fund terror attacks. Even Secretary of State John Kerry admitted as much.
According to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Iran is “the foremost state sponsor of terror”. “Iran and Hezbollah remain a continuing terrorist threat to U.S. interests and partners worldwide,” Clapper said last year. And a State Department Country Report on Terrorism noted that, “Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide remained undiminished…” even after U.S.-led sanctions.
Iran has long been a state sponsor of terror, fueled almost entirely in the belief that they are the vanguard of Islam against the West which seeks to undermine Islamic values. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameini regularly discusses what he characterizes as successful attempts by the U.S. to pervert the true meaning of Islam while waging a cultural war that introduces the proverbial sex, drugs and rock and roll into the Islamic sphere of influence. The Western world is at the heart of the troubles in Islam, according to Khameini, and that’s why the Islamic world must perpetually fight against the West.
Acknowledging this mindset is the first step in understanding why Iran chooses terror. The second step is seeing that the military might of the U.S. actually drives much of the adversarial asymmetric warfare — in this case terrorism. For the past several decades, the American military has been unrivaled in most aspects of conventional warfare. In conventional, head to head conflicts, America is still heavily favored due to technological superiority and a well-trained and capable fighting force. But it’s this conventional might that drives America’s adversaries to unconventional and asymmetric methods. Because no country can fight conventionally against the U.S., nations like Iran build force projection to carry out regional and global objectives through proxy groups and other asymmetric means.
In this report…
- How many Iranian proxy terror groups exist?
- Where are they located?
- What kinds of activities do they carry out?
- How many Americans have they killed?
- What’s the likelihood that an Iranian proxy group will attack inside the U.S.?
- What are some potential targets for Iranian proxy groups?
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Photo via Flickr in Baalbek, Lebanon