Iran’s policy makers are aware that their policies have supported, both politically and religiously, extremists and militants in the region and around the world. Perhaps these policies are undertaken to serve the political or sectarian interests of Iran and its allies.
Iran’s policies presented themselves as being morals-based, and this galvanized support among the oppressed supporters of rebel and liberation movements across the world, however, the nefarious truth concerning the motivation behind Iran’s policies have been revealed, particularly after the Syrian war.
It has become apparent that Iran has been repressing these rebel and liberation movements with its army and Revolutionary Guards, and has killed the oppressed using explosives. Iran has also cut off diplomatic ties to states that previously had amicable relations to Iran, due to their objection of the current Iranian policies.
Iran has cooperated with the Islamic Group in Egypt, from which Al-Qaida originated, with Al-Qaeda itself and the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Despite cooperating with these groups, Iran labeled them as terrorists following the Syrian war when their interest conflicted with Iran’s. Despite that the entire world considered Al-Qaeda a terrorist organization, Iran has harbored a number of its leaders, some of whom were wanted by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States authorities, or the United States.
Iran has benefited more from these Islamic groups, than they have benefited from Iran. Iran viewed them as a tool that could be utilized to exert international pressure, and played with their existence on Iranian territory. They validate Iran’s allegations and through their media, promote the idea that terrorists are only Sunnis. These groups have not benefitted from Iran except for purchasing Iranian weapons.
The term “terrorism” in Iranian policy is loose and does not have an exact definition. According to Iranian policy, a terrorist who not one who practices violence or terrorizes defenseless citizen, but rather “anyone who deviates from Iranian policies can be considered a terrorist of a Zio-American agent,” (despite the fact that these individuals have been supported by Iran itself recently).
This study aims to stand on the prominent landmarks of the relation between Iran and militants, and examine how Iran has benefitted from these militants in the context of its imperialist project in the region, and has employed religion and creed to serve its expansive ambitions.
♦ Exclusion and Violence in the Writings of Khomeini
Khomeini’s writings contain expressions of violence and exclude all dissenting opinions. This man has made himself a state entity, and even went as far as making himself “the Shiites entity,” speaking on behalf of Islam and considering himself a representative of the religion. In this way, he could label anyone who contradicts him as being against religion.
Khomeini bestowed himself with powers, exceeding not only commanders, leaders, and presidents, but even the powers of the prophets.
He also gave himself the right to cancel Pray, Fasting, and Zakat if necessary: “The government of religion is the first pillar of Islam, and has priority over secondary pillars, such as Prayer, Fasting and Hajj. In order to protect Islam, secondary pillars can be suspended.” As in the word of Muhammad Shirazi (1338 AH – 1920 AD): “God (Allah) has delegated the legislative and formative leadership to the Imams, and they have the reins of the world to dispose of them in creation and execution.”
In the words of Khomeini (1320 – 1409 AH / 1902 – 1989 AD): “The Judgment of creatures is upon you and will return to you…and the Imam has the overall leadership making him responsible for every individual; a ruler over consciences and hearts. Moreover, Imams have the place of neither a king, nor a prophet. They are lights staring at the Throne of God (Allah).” Thus, Khomeini was revered at a level, not attained by the priesthood in the European Dark Ages.
This sanctification and infallibility, with which he attributed himself, made him the first man of exclusion powers. It was not only Sunni offenders who faced potential punitive measures, but also Shiites themselves, as demonstrated by his deputy Montazeri, who was held under house arrest.
Khomeini saw no religious, moral, or even human objection to Sunni destruction. Infallible imams defamed them, cursed them, and mentioned their misdeeds.
Among these explicit words and other similar statements, we can recognize the Iranian political philosophy behind its position towards Sunni countries, led by Saudi Arabia. Iran wants to destroy the Sunni world with Khomeini’s words, and there is no doubt that terrorist organizations constitute one of the destructive tools used by Iran in order to accomplish this purpose.
The Shia jurisprudence contains many radical and exclusionary provisions that were stated in the specific context of their environment. Khomeini and his followers began applying them in a way that was distorted from their real purpose and background.
This is clearly reflected in the following examples about the practical implementation of these policies by the Persian state of Khomeini.
♦ Iran’s Relationship with the Islamic Group in Egypt
The Islamic Group in Egypt is an extremist group, which rebelled against the state and society, killed tens of thousands of Egyptians, and exhausted the Egyptian state in the seventies, eighties, and early nineties of the twentieth century. Furthermore, this group assassinated President Anwar Al-Sadat and killed dozens of journals. This group comprises the core of al-Qaeda in the region.
Iran has close links to the Islamic Group’s members, especially after the success of the Khomeini revolution and the reception of the Shah by the Egyptian regime. The Persian state has animosity towards Egypt and towards its regime at that time. Iran has supported insurgents, who are engaged in terrorist attacks against the Egyptian state. The Islamic Group then assassinated President Al-Sadat; the assassinator is suspected to be Alislampoli, whose name has been given to one of the main streets in Iran.
Iran received leaders of the group fleeing from court judgments in Egypt. This group was led by Mustafa Hamza, who stayed in Tehran until after 2000 AD, before moving to London. Mustafa Hamza and his brother, both of whom are leaders of the Islamic Group, called for Egypt to reconcile with Iran and criticized the severing of Egyptian-Iranian relations. As mentioned previously, the Islamic Group is the nucleus of al-Qaeda. In addition to participating in the armed resistance against Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, the group also sent dozens of militants to fight with Jabhat Alnosra. The Islamic Group’s leader, Rifai Taha, died in Syria in April 2016 AD.
The paradox is that after being a jihadist organization in Iran’s eyes during the domestic struggle against Egyptian security forces, the Islamic Group has now become a terrorist organization due to fighting Bashar Al-Assad’s forces in Syria.
Iran is using extremist groups to serve its interests and objectives in the Arab and Muslim world. Iran then takes advantage of the distortions it has created in order to place the blame on Sunni Islam.
♦ Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda
Most of the fugitive leaders of the Islamic Group went from Egypt to Afghanistan in the late eighties and early nineties, and joined others to form al-Qaeda during the Soviet War. As mentioned previously, these leaders have been associated in one way or another with the Iranian regime.
After the US invasion of Afghanistan, many leaders, (an estimated 500 consisting of organization members and their families), moved from Afghanistan to Iran, which confirms the close link and strategic cooperation between this group and Iran.
Among these leaders:
– Saif al-Adel, Mohamed Salah Zeidan – traveled with Osama bin Laden to Sudan, and took over the military leadership of the organization after the death of Abu Hafs al-Masri.
-Saad bin Laden – the third son of the leader of al-Qaeda, who appeared with 24 members of his family in Iran.
Abu Hafs Almoretani – the first legitimate individual responsible for al-Qaeda-
Abu al-Walid al-Masri – still being held in Iran currently-
-Jaafar Aluzbaki – a charismatic and key figure in the organization, who still lives in Iran and supervises a network that is responsible for transferring money and foreign fighters across Turkey in the interest of Jabhat Alnosra.
-Yassin Alsouri – being held in Iran and has played a major role in transporting individuals with combat experience from Pakistan to Syria.
-Saleh Abdullah Al-Qaraawi – founder of Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is a branch of the organization in the Levant. He married the daughter of Mohammed Hakayimah, while he was in Iran. Al-Qaraawi is included on the most wanted list in Saudi Arabia, which consists of 85 individuals
It seems that Iranian policies are based on a game of exploiting these groups in order to put pressure on political opponents, both regionally and internationally. The list of individuals above harbored by Iran, included individuals on the most wanted list in Saudi Arabia, the US, and Europe, such as Saleh Al-Qaraawi. Despite the fact that some of these individuals are wanted, Iran prefers to maintain these individuals as part of its strategy in the region.
US documents have proven the existence of the relationship between Iran and Al-Qaeda Iran could take advantage of its relationship with these leaders in the following ways:
1- Support and build alliances with them in case of any American threat in the Iranian borders in Iraq or Afghanistan. (Iran employed this exact strategy already.)
2- Support terrorist groups against Saudi Arabia, in order to exhaust the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with internal issues and ideological conflicts.
3- Distort the image of Sunni Islam.
Ironically, all of these groups and individuals are now considered to be terrorists by Iran, because of their participation in the fight against Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. Despite this, Iran at one time, viewed them as supporters. Iran labels any group or individual, which violates its policies as a terrorist, even if that person or group was a former ally. In a similar respect, Iran gives the label of “Mujahidin” to any individual who cooperates with its policies, regardless of whether that individual has committed crimes actually.
♦ Iran’s Role in Afghanistan:
Iranians have had a strong presence in Pashtun areas. This presence is valuable, because Afghanistan is a strategic region for Iran that cannot be abandoned.
It has been mentioned in Iranian popular tales that if a mother has a stupid child, she sends him east to Afghanistan, because Afghanistan is a remote area in need of care. (However, Afghans say that God (Allah) collected all stupid Aryans and put them in Iran) Afghanistan is the basis of Iran’s civilization. Afghans speak the language of Iranian kings, and their blood is purer than that of Iranians.
Documents indicate that Iranian intelligence has close ties with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, however its policy towards these two organizations differs radically. Iran needs ties to both organizations in Afghanistan, because they are popular among and mobilize from different tribes. The documents also mention detecting shipments of Iranian weapons to these two organizations. The Iranian government denies providing arms to either of the two organizations, however a non-governmental institution could do this job. The Taliban uses Iranian weapons, such as Kalashnikovs and mobile missiles, as well as mines of the serpent model. Iranian weapons are preferred over arms from other sources due to their low price, high quality, and relevance within the Afghan environment.
Iran is allying with all of the permitted and prohibited organizations in Afghanistan, and deals with the Taliban despite the political and ideological discrepancies.
Iran benefits from its relationship with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in the following ways:
1 – Use as playing card to exert power and pressure within Afghanistan, which is a country of strategic importance for Iran.
2 – Brings security and economic balance to Afghanistan
3 – Ensures the nonexistence of a strong neighboring state that could be difficult to penetrate or influence.
4 – Acts as a market for Iranian weapons and goods.
5 – Allows pressure to be exerted on some regional and international countries.
♦ Iran’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood
There is no doubt that Iran is using all means to penetrate the Sunni community. Iran has established close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood endorses a perspective of unity, rapprochement, and coexistence, whereas Iran’s perspective is comprised of penetration, evangelization, control, and domination.
Youssef Nada, the Commissioner of the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Relations, has expressed his position toward the Shiites and Iran. His position was politically practical, so as to avoid taking sides.According to the Supreme Leader’s advisor, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, Iranians considered the Muslim Brotherhood to be closely aligned with Iranian policies. Ironically, despite Iran’s cooperation with and closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood before the events in Syria and Yemen, Iran now considers this group a terrorist organization, because of its participation in the conflict against Bashar al-Assad, as well as its opposition towards a Reform Party against Huthi domination in Yemen.
♦ Iran’s relationship with Hamas
Iran used Hamas as a tool to exert political pressure, a card to play on the table during the Iranian nuclear negotiations, and as a way to achieve political and populist gains in the region. Hamas was backed by Iran until the Syrian revolution, which was rejected by Hamas’ leaders. Following this, Iran worked to strangle Hamas, both logistically and financially, and it has been classified as an ungrateful rebel movement.
Iran forgot the literatures of Jihad and resistance during its dealings with Hamas, if these literatures were not in line with the Iranian political discourse.
The Iranians have allied with the Islamic Group, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, but following the events in Syria and Yemen, these groups have been labeled terrorists. This shows that Iran’s intentions had nothing to do with closeness or coexistence, but rather centered on domination, control, and exerting influence inside these countries.
This relationship is based on a number of common interests and objectives on both sides. Dr. Alsulami cites the following evidence:
1 – Albaghdadi has ignored Iran in his speeches, although he has mentioned many countries, including Muslim ones.
2 – ISIS has targeted the Arab and Islamic people, by bombing mosques, and this is directly in line with Iran’s interest.
3 – Iran does not recognize the political legitimacy of the regimes in the region, and this is the same vision as ISIS.
4 – Both Iran and ISIS use sectarian language and target others physically and morally.
5 – ISIS has reached the borders of Iran, but has not attempted to penetrate these borders. In Syria, ISIS did not target the sectarian militia of Iran nor the Syrian regime, but put all its efforts against the revolutionaries.
Even if ISIS has not been infiltrated by Iran, it is still under Iran’s subordination, and works to implement Iran’s agenda, strategy, and plans.
The ISIS map, showing ISIS’ expansionist ambitions, since its inception has only covered provinces and cities of Sunnis only. ISIS has permeated Anbar, Ramadi, and Fallujah, but despite this, ISIS has not headed south toward Karbala or Najaf, even though these two Shiite cities on directly on the southern borders of Anbar. ISIS did not even head towards Baghdad, because the organization knows that Baghdad is a red line for Iran. ISIS has settled mainly in Sunni cities to kill innocent civilians. ISIS’ actions in Iraq of displacing Sunni citizens and violating them are aligned with Iran’s policies, and Iran is benefitting from these actions.
Perhaps with the passing of time, additional documents will prove a strong relationship between ISIS and Iran, as the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda has been proven.
♦ Iran’s relationship and sponsorship of sectarian militias
The Iranian regime is a system controlled by militias, which is fueled by terrorism. It is not a state of institutions, but a state of sectarian militias, and for this reason, the regime does not want to eradicate terrorism.
Iran has a proven record of terrorist operations by its men and militias, such as:
1 – Storming the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and holding American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
2 – Storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran in 1987, killing a Saudi diplomat, injuring the Charge d’Affaires, and infringing on the rights of families, women, and children.
3 – Attacking the French Embassy in 2010
4 – Attacking the British Embassy in 2011. The same people who demonstrated on a regular basis stormed the embassy.
5 – Storming the Saudi Embassy in 2015, and attempting to break into the Saudi consulate in Mashhad.
6 – Establishing three Iranian spy cells in Saudi Arabia, seven in Kuwait, two in Yemen, one in UAE, and two in Bahrain.
7 – Undertaking eighteen terrorist operations in Kuwait, six in Saudi Arabia, and four in Lebanon.
8 – Attempting to assassinate diplomats, including the Saudi foreign minister when he was an ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC. Assassination of Mustafa Marzouki, the first secretary at the Kuwaiti Embassy in India in 1980, and of the Kuwaiti diplomat Madrid Najib al-Rifai in 1982.
9 – Expanding terrorism within Iran itself by targeting ethnic minorities inside Iran, such as Arabs, Baluchis, and Azerbaijanis, as well as religious minorities such as Sunnis, worshippers of stars and planets, and Baha’is.
10 – Targeting Shiite objectors of Iranian policies, such as during the Green Revolution in 2009. Furthermore, Iran targeted Shiites in Ahwaz, supported Hezbollah in Lebanon in its war against the Amal Movement in 1985, and supported Christian Armenians against Shiites from Azerbaijan. Iran is allied with militias and the survival of the Iranian regime is linked with terrorism. Therefore, it is natural for Iran to establish armies of terrorists and sectarian militias, in order to support its criminal activities and violations. Iran has also not hesitated to support Shiite terrorist and extremist organizations financially, logistically, and militarily, in order to expand its control in the region, destabilize neighboring countries, and disturb the political process, as in the case of Syria and Yemen.
In Syria alone, reports indicate that Iran supports fifteen sectarian organizations fighting alongside al-Assad. (Hezbollah-Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Ansar Allah “Houthi elements,” Abo Alfadl Alabbas Brigade, Thulfaqar Brigade, Iraqi Hezbollah, Sayed al-Shuhada Battalion, Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr’s forces, Alnujaba Movement, Ahalhaq Corps, Asdullah Brigade, Rapid Intervention Regiment, al-Mahdi Army).
In Iraq, Iran supports a number of sectarian terrorist organizations that perform genocide and war crimes, similar to those in Syria, such as: Badr Corps, Alsalam Brigades, Ahlolhaq, Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, Saraya, Adefa’ Alsha’bi, Brigade of Abu al Fadl al Abbas, and Alhashd Alsh’abi.
♦ Iran and Hezbollah of Lebanon
Hezbollah is the largest, oldest, and most dangerous armed organization loyal to Khomeini’s Iran. Since its establishment, Hezbollah has not hidden this loyalty. Ibrahim Al-Ameen, the official spokesperson for Hezbollah gave the following statement about the organization’s relationship to Iran: “We do not say that we are a part of Iran, but we are representing Iran in Lebanon, and Lebanon in Iran.” On February 16, 1985 AD, Hezbollah addressed the world and the oppressed people of Lebanon in an open message, stating, “We are the nation of Hezbollah sons. We consider ourselves part of the central Islamic nation in the world. We are committed to the orders or a single command, fair and wise, represented by the Jurist Leadership, embodied at present by Khomeini.” Hezbollah is an Iranian party and the head of Iranian influence in the region, as well as a follower of Iran religiously, politically, and economically.
♦ Terrorist from the first day:
Hezbollah has engaged in terrorism from the first day. The organization has terrorized innocent people and raised its weapons against its opponents from the beginning. Furthermore, Hezbollah has raised its weapons against Shiites themselves, such as against the Shiite Amal movement, considered as Shia Arabs, whose origins trace back to Musa al-Sadr.
The war between the two groups began in 1985 and lasted for weeks until the Syrian and Iranian regimes brokered an agreement between the parties. Losses from the battles are estimated at five hundred victims, five thousand wounded, in addition to heavy economic losses in infrastructure, as well as the psychological split between sons of the same sect.
The Iranian-backed party, Hezbollah, could win this war and defeat the Amal military movement, which was at the tie backed by Syria. Hezbollah could then extend its influence and seize the remaining elements of the Amal movement.
Hezbollah was supported in this war by Iran since its inception and linked with the Jurist Leadership that Iran adopted after Khomeini’s revolution. From the perspective of Iran and Hezbollah, the Amal movement is a secular and rebellious movement and not aligned with Jurist’s teachings. Hezbollah was formed by Arabs who are linked to Najaf Hawza (Shiite religious schools). From day one, Hezbollah has represented Iran’s interests and looks for guidance to the Supreme Leader.
From the very beginning, Hezbollah was a terrorist organization. Its original purpose was to resist the Israeli occupation, but the group diverged from this purpose and shed the blood of innocent Lebanese.
To this day, the party continues to participate in the killing of innocent people in Syria, act as a tool for the mullahs in Tehran, and contribute to Iran’s political scheme.
♦ Iran and Houthis:
Iran has supported the group of Abdul-Malik Alhouthi or Ansar Allah. Iran contained and controlled the movement by providing ongoing support and training, turning the group into a soft instrument completely loyal to Iran and distant from Yemeni politics. At first, it was a Zaidi and Arab movement, but it turned into a movement aligned with the beliefs of Twelver Shiites. The group sought to exhaust the neighboring countries, and threaten the security of the Gulf in the interest of Iran. The group’s crimes in Yemen are countless.
According to Haidar Moslehi, the intelligence minister in Ahmadinejad’s government, supporting these sectarian Shiite groups has enabled Iran to gain control of three Arab capitals.. The Iranian President Advisor for Minority Affairs, Ali Yonsei, declared that Iraq is “the capital of the new Iranian empire.” Ismail Qai’ana, deputy of Alquds Corps of IRGC stated, “Iran will continue to influence countries in the region. We have started to control Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, and moving forward today, we will start exerting influence in the rest of the countries in the region.”
These statements are not a coincidence or a slip of the tongue, but rather they completely reflect the philosophy of Iranian policy in the region, and a desire to dominate and expand influence. Iran does not respect the neighboring countries or their national security considerations. Iran implements its imperial project through these supported extremist groups; the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and loyalist Shiites in Bahrain, among others.
The Iranian regime is playing with fire. Iran is the only regime in the world that establishes armies if sectarian terrorists and armed militias, which commit the most heinous crimes in the name of Iranian doctrines.
Iranians believed that those crimes would bring them close to the Jurist and prepare for his appearance. In order to understand this psychology, we must be aware that anyone who is not Shi’i is considered an infidel in Iran, and that there is believed to be no harm in killing or destroying him, as Khomeini himself has said. We can understand Iranian policies as the “scorched earth” policy, from this point of view.
It is clear that there is no future for such a regime in the twenty-first century. The persistence of this regime is close to impossible, because the regime does not believe in universal human rights, or the rules governing the coexistence and respect of others’ national security. There are also factors from within, which weaken the regime, such as conflict between leaders and elements of the Revolutionary Guard, as well as a lack of stable institutional presence to rely on in case of conflict. These factors are further exacerbated by the alienation of large segments of the Iranian population from this dictatorial rule. The discontent of the Iranian people was seen during the “Green Movement” in 2009, however the authorities suppressed it. This revolution could ignite again given the continuation of internal oppression and external entanglement.
This regime should be treated purely as a terrorist one, lacking political morality and human consciousness. The crimes of the Iranian regime should be published globally, so that it’s identity as a militant regime and supporter of terrorism can be known.