Trump and his war party insist that Iran in the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East.  However Michael Kronenwetter in Terrorism: A Guide to Events and Documents (2004) disputes this war propaganda.  Kronenwetter states that one of the stated reasons for the 2003 war on Iraq was Saddam Hussein's alleged support of international terrorism, and the United States righteously continues to accuse Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba [also Venezuela] of supporting terrorist groups.  But those are by no means the only governments known to give support to terrorists.

Kronenwetter insists that in fact, the United States itself has frequently, and sometimes openly, given support, through the CIA and otherwise, to groups that practice terrorism, notably including the Contras who conducted a paramilitary insurgency against the left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.  The CIA also supported the Mujahedeen—the 10,000 Muslim fighters from more than 10 nations who went to Afghanistan to combat the Soviet occupation of that country in the 1980s—reportedly to the tune of $500 million.  Ironically, many of those same Mujahedeen fighters, including Osama bin Laden, now form the core of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Governments frequently support groups whose activities they find helpful for geopolitical reasons.  The United States helped both Iran and Iraq at different stages of the war between those two countries, even though it knew both of them to be guilty of sponsoring terrorism, not only against each other, but against Israel and Western interests, as well.


Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union and other Communist nations offered financial, logistical, and other support to left-wing paramilitaries and Marxist-Leninist terrorist groups in countries around the world.  At the same time, the United States was giving assistance to the governments that were resisting such insurgencies, even those that did s using terrorist methods of their own.  In that respect, it is poetic justice that the United States and the Soviet Union's successor, Russia, are two of the main targets of terrorism today, [especially when it comes to interference in elections worldwide].


Kronenwetter gives short histories and descriptions of a variety of terrorist groups:



One of the most hardline, anti-Israel, and anti-Western political organizations in the entire Middle East, Hezbollah is also one the region's most active terrorist groups.  Formed in 1982 as a coalition of fundamentalist Lebanese Shi'ite groups (notably the Lebanese branch of the Da'wa Party and Islamic Amal), its declared aims are to combat what it sees as Western imperialism in Lebanon and Palestine, to reestablish Islamic rule in Jerusalem, and to reconstitute Lebanon as an Islamic republic on the Iranian model.


Hezbollah's paramilitary played the major role in harassing the Israeli occupying forces in southern Lebanon until the Israeli forces finally withdrew from the country in 2000.


More than just a terrorist and paramilitary organization, Hezbollah is a significant force in Lebanese political and social life.  It holds several seats in the Lebanese parliament and provides needed social services, including medical aid, to thousands of Lebanese Shi'ite.  Not surprisingly, in light of the quasi-governmental roles it plays within the Shia community in Lebanon, Hezbollah is relatively complex organizationally.  At the top are a Leadership Council, made up of Shi'ite clerics, and Decision-making Council; under them are three Regional Councils that oversee the group's activities on the ground in Beirut, the Beka'a Valley, and in south Lebanon; and there are several less committees that help plan and carry out the group's myriad activities.


U.S. authorities believe that Hezbollah receives both inspiration and at least some political direction from the Shi'ite government of Iran, as well as money, weapons, and diplomatic assistance from both Iran and Syria.



Dissident Iranians.  Also known as the Mujaheddin-E Khalq organization (MEK), the national Liberation Army of Iran, the national Council of Resistance, organization of the People's Holy Warriors of Iran.


The People's Mujahedeen is the militant wing of MEK, an Islamic Marxist movement that began its existence opposing Western influence on the Shah's regime in Iran in the 1970s, and that opposes the clerical regime that is now in power in the country, as well.  It is probably unique among terrorist groups in the Middle East—and among Islamic terrorist groups anywhere—in that it is currently led by a woman.


MEK grew out of the Iranian student movement of the 1960s.   Its main purpose at the time was to overthrow the Shah of Iran, who was widely regarded as a puppet of the United States.  In the 1970s, the People's Mujahedeen launched a number of attacks inside Iran in which several Americans were killed.   After the fall of the Shah, the group supported the student invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and the holding of American hostages that followed.


In 1981, an MEK bomb killed 70 Iranian government officials, including the president, the premier, and the attorney-general.  Having aroused the displeasure of the new government in Tehran, the MEK leaders fled, first to France, and later to Iraq, where it helped the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein put down the Kurdish and Shia uprisings that came in the aftermath of the Gulf War of 1991.  From then until the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the People's Mujahedeen performed international security services for the Iraqi government.  In return, it received financial support and permission to use Iraq as a base for attacks on Iran.

In April 1992, the People's Mujahedeen carried out attacks against Iranian Embassies in no less than 13 different countries.  Over the next several years, members of the group assassinated several Iranian military personnel; the most prominent victim being the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff.  In February 2000, MEK launched Operation Great Bahman, carrying out a dozen military operations against Iran; it has kept up small-scale raids and mortar attacks inside that country ever since.


After Iraq's capitulation to the Americans in 2003, the people's Mujahedeen agreed to a cease-fire with the U.S. military in return for which it was allowed to keep much of its substantial arsenal of guns, tanks mortars, and artillery, and perhaps its bases in Iraq, as well.  At that time, there was some speculation as to why the United States, which was supposed to be waging worldwide “War on Terrorism,” would let such a notorious terrorist group escape virtually untouched.  The best explanation seemed to be the United States would find the group's continued harassment of the government useful, and might even be looking forward to the group's assistance, should the United States itself choose to move against Iran in the future, [and it seems that the future is now].

The People's Mujahedeen is estimated to have between 5,000 and 10,000 actual fighters.  Until recently, it was financed largely by the Hussein government in Iraq and by donations from Iranian exiles in other countries.


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Comment by mary gravitt on May 25, 2019 at 1:54pm

We are fed on who is the enemy.  If we have mirrors we may like Pogo, observe him or her.   Don't forget in whose favor the designated enemy always is.  And don't forget your President say that the enemy of the people is a free press.

I am saddened by the news that the greatest free press online: Our Salon, is shutting down on July 1, 2019.  It will be sorely missed.


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