To many, terror is a means to an end, a tool used by the weaker or the victim, the minority fighting for their rights, for their need of self-determination, or just for scaring off stronger opponents. We are not going to discuss the legitimacy of terror as such, nor are we showing proof of “this or that” act being an act of terror. This article deals with only one aspect of terror, being profitable, whereas warfare isn’t. Especially state terror as we see these past decades emerging from Iran.
So-called political terror thrives on ideology, in most cases of religious origin. These days you will find very little left-wing terrorism, let alone anarchistic movements, that will indulge in physical, armed terror acts. For some reason, this kind of activity is nowadays the prerogative of Muslim fundamentalists, either as organizations or nations. The foundation of terror always looks as if it is based on poverty, on the underprivileged who will give their lives for freedom and the right to live in peace. This is good for propaganda, it is an excellent means to gather charity, allegedly for those who need it most.
But this apparatus is much more sophisticated. The equation has altered: it is no more the needing and poor that are of interest, but the terror acts themselves, the revenge of the so-called weak, the amplitude of destruction that suffering that the underdog can inflict on the imperialistic, tyrannic oppressor. The greater the impact, the more money can be harvested. Therefore, the equation must be not only upheld, but multiplied. This means that the poor must get poorer and more miserable, and the acts of terror must get more intense and vicious. In other words, as little money as possible will go to the poor civilians, as much as needed will go to improving terror capabilities, and for some reason, there is always a lot of money left. The “masterminds” always get paid for the improvement of the money-making machine. Mind you, the families of the martyrs who died for the “cause”, formally for Jihad, but in fact for financial gain.
There is the utmost importance in maintaining the suffering amongst the civilians. The more miserable they are, the more money is gathered through charities, international funds, and aid projects. Would there be any improvement in their status, the money flow would stop and the population will have a lower enthusiasm to fight, let alone, give up their life for “the greater good”.
It is of great advantage, when a terror organization connects to a state, which should have a common agenda. States will provide training, equipment, intelligence, and even their own infrastructure. In many cases, states will provide a safe haven for leading figures, and development units that have to stay out of site and business units. In return, these states demand loyalty, targeted activities, and up to complete subordination, as we see in the case of Iran and Hezbollah.
As for Hamas, for instance, the lion’s share of the GDP of Gaza is terror as an industry or at least terror related. Far off in second place, you will find smuggling. This is the major income source for the greater part of the population, especially in times of conflict.
All of this is well known, many of the dots have been connected before and the grand design is no surprise to anyone who has had a better look at terrorism. The question remains, where does the big money come from? Why is terror so profitable and how does the system work? For this apparatus to work efficiently, we need a banking system, cash money businesses, and good connections. Very much like in organized crime. And this is where the big money comes from. For the terror organizations, it comes from drug production, drug smuggling, money laundering, and above all, terror on demand.
For the terror state, especially for Iran, the big money comes from the stock exchange, from control over oil prices, and from take-overs over other countries economy. Iran will invest on the stock exchange according to the timing of terror attacks provided by her proxies, it will terrorize Saudi Arabia using the Houthies to push oil prices, will threaten the Hormuz straits to raise expenses for her rivals. Iran will provide weapons and ammunition to third parties, like Russia and Armenia. Iran took control over Iraq, has a stranglehold on Syria, and is the sole keeper of Lebanon.
This money is then divided very much in conformity with the apparatus of the smaller organizations, meaning that the proxies get their part, mostly directly to the leader’s pocket, the terror units, like Quds force and other IRGC units, and into the private bank accounts of the leadership in the intimate circle of Khamenei.
A short glimpse at how Russia has handled itself as probably the leading terror state will show you the upper echelon of the terror apparatus, when a world power acts through regional terror states, like Iran and Syria, like North Korea and large parts of Africa, while keeping innate capabilities, as in the Wagner forces.