Iran’s recent acts of aggression against the U.S. and its allies follow a long history of terror by the state, including a recent modernization of tactics in the form of cyber hacks and disinformation campaigns.
New images released on Tuesday by the U.S. Navy show Iranian Revolutionary Guard ships performing “unsafe and unprofessional” maneuvers around American ships in the Persian Gulf.
This is the latest provocation by Iran — the second-largest country in the Middle East — as it prepares to negotiate with the U.S. and other world leaders about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Since it became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, Iran has a long history of using terror and other acts of aggression to achieve its political objectives.
For 42 years, it has been designated by the U.S. and other world powers as the leading state sponsor of terrorism around the globe. It has backed other terrorist organizations — such as the Taliban and Hezbollah — to further its goals.
History of terror
Prior to the Iranian Revolution, the country was ruled by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose family governed Iran since 1925. However, starting in the 1950s Shah Reza’s rule — with the backing of the U.S. — became more and more authoritarian.
The shah tried to Westernize Iran and created more opportunities for Iranian citizens to succeed in business and education. In 1979, however, Pahlavi’s dictatorial government led to a revolution that removed him from power.
Pahlavi was replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian government that has engaged in terroristic activities for decades against the U.S. and its allies.
Seven months after Iran officially became an Islamist republic, it started down the path of using terrorism as a tactic to achieve its political ends and instill fear in its enemies.
On Nov. 4, 1979, a group of radical Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Fifty U.S. citizens were taken hostage. The students demanded that then-President Carter extradite the shah — who had fled his native country — back to Iran to stand trial. Khomeini had already issued an order to purge the government of any officials loyal to the exiled shah resulting in thousands of executions.
Carter rejected turning over the shah. The hostages were held for 444 days and contributed to Carter’s loss in the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan. But Iran had cemented its terror credentials.
Supported by Iran, the terrorist group Hezbollah abducted nearly 100 foreign nationals in Lebanon between 1982 and 1992, including a large number of Americans. Some of the abducted Americans spent years in captivity while others, including CIA Station Chief William Buckley, were tortured and killed.
Hezbollah, which is a Shia Islamist political party and militant group in Lebanon — bombed the US Embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63 people including the “entire U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Middle East contingent.”
Iran also backed the 1983 bombing at the U.S. Marine Barracks at Beirut International Airport that killed almost 250 marines and wounded 100 others. Iran also backed the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait by Hezbollah.
Iran has also been tied to directing the assassinations of multiple people, including many political opponents.
Shapour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister of Iran before the revolution led the National Movement of Iranian Resistance in exile in France. In a suburb of Paris in 1991, he was murdered by Iranian assassins. When one of the killers was paroled 20 years later he was received as a hero by Iranian officials.
Additionally, Iran has had a turbulent relationship with its Middle Eastern neighbor, Afghanistan dating back to 1979.
The Middle East Institute reports that Iran has been “simultaneously providing support to the Afghan government and the Taliban in the hopes of keeping them divided and influencing political developments once the U.S. draws down its forces.” As a result, in its continued attempt to weaken the U.S. globally, Iran has provided weapons and financial support to the Taliban to use against U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Israel, one of the closest allies to the U.S., has also been a common target for Iranian sanctioned terrorism. Iran constantly attempts to undermine Israel’s place in the Middle East as state-sponsored violence prevents peace in the region.
Iran’s terrorism tactics have evolved since 1979 and now expand beyond physical violence, weapons distribution, and bombings and include more intangible and modern methods of terror.
Modernization of terror tactics
In recent years, Iran’s ability to inflict terror and fear around the globe has evolved to include not only physical attacks but a plethora of cyber attacks ranging from disinformation campaigns to data theft.
Over the last few years, Iranian nationals working on behalf of the Iranian government have engaged in coordinated campaigns of cyber attacks against the U.S. and its allies.
In 2016, seven Iranian defendants attempted to sabotage American financial institutions by gaining access into the control systems of a New York dam. The hackers were working specifically for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Two years later, the DOJ announced that nine defendants, also working on behalf of the Iranian government and the guard corps, hacked into computer systems of 320 universities in 22 countries and stole billions of dollars of exclusive research.
Last September, three more Iranian hackers were indicted for stealing critical information on U.S. aerospace and satellite technology. They targeted many companies within the U.S. and abroad and successfully compromised networks and stole sensitive information.
In addition, Iranian groups were tied to spreading disinformation around the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Twitter announced that it removed over 200 account handles operating from Iran, as part of an investigation into possible foreign influence into the election.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury also announced new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with the IRGC’s Quds Force and the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, “for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference” in the election.
The threat of state-sponsored cyber intrusions continues to be a challenge for the U.S. and its allies across the globe.
The Biden administration and Iran
Despite Iran’s long history of physical and cyber terrorism, President Biden has signaled that his administration will take a more open approach to diplomacy with the state, including possibly lifting sanctions and officially re-entering the Iran Nuclear Deal.
In contrast, former President Trump’s administration started a “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, including imposing around 1,500 sanctions on the state and pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Concerned Republican members of Congress have already taken action to ensure that the Biden administration will not capitulate to Iran’s demands.
Last month, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, along with 20 Republican members of the committee, introduced the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act of 2021.
The bill is the House companion to legislation sponsored by Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and would give Congress the power to override any effort by the Biden administration to lift sanctions against the Iranian regime.
In addition, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined six Republican lawmakers last week in unveiling the Max Pressure Act, new legislation that would codify the maximum pressure campaign make it nearly impossible for Biden to ease Iranian sanctions.
Source » yahoo