FACT SHEET: Iran's Record in Supporting Terrorism and Extremism

January 19, 2016

Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran has established a record of spreading sedition, unrest and chaos in the region in an effort to undermine the region’s security and stability, and in complete disregard for international law, agreements, treaties, and moral principles.  During the same period, the Kingdom has maintained a policy of restraint in spite of having suffered — as have neighboring countries — the consequences of Iran’s continued aggressive policies.

Iranian policy is based primarily on the preamble of Iranian constitution and the directive of Ayatollah Khomeini, which is based on the idea of exporting revolution.  In a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of other states and interference in their internal affairs, Iran recruits militias in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen under what it calls in support of the vulnerable and subjugated peoples.  It continues to support terrorism by providing safe havens for terrorist organizations on its territory, planting terrorist cells in a number of Arab countries, and assisting in terrorist bombings that have caused the loss of many innocent lives. It has assassinated opposition figures abroad, has continually violated the sanctity of diplomatic missions, and has even assassinated or attempted to assassinate diplomats around the world.

This fact sheet illustrate Iran's aggressive policies over nearly four decades, and categorically refutes the persistent lies promoted by the Tehran regime.

  1. The Iranian regime is the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism. The Quds Force and other state and state-sponsored organizations actively engage in and support terrorist organizations abroad, such as Hezbollah, Hezbollah Al-Hejaz (Saudi Hezbollah), Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) in Iraq, and a number of sectarian militias, including Houthis in Yemen. Iran has supported and conspired with other terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda. Iran has harbored Al-Qaeda leaders, some of whom still enjoy sanctuary in Iran. Iran has been condemned by the United Nations and many countries. International sanctions have been imposed on it.
  2. In 1982, 96 foreigners were kidnapped in Lebanon, including 25 Americans, in what is known as “the hostage crisis”, which lasted for 10 years. Most of kidnappings were carried out by Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups.
  3. Hezbollah’s bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983, which killed 63 people, was orchestrated by the Iranian regime.
  4. Also, in 1983, Ismail Ascari, an Iranian national, carried out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. The attack was planned by Iran and resulted in the deaths of 241 American servicemen and injuries to 100. It was described by the American press as the largest single group of casualties outside the battlefield.
  5. On the same day, Hezbollah also sent a suicide truck bomber to the French army barracks in Beirut, which resulted in the deaths of 64 French civilian and military personnel.
  6. In 1983, members of Hezbollah and the Shiite Hezb-Al-Dawa, which were backed by Iran, carried out a number of attacks, including attacks on the U.S., and French embassies in Kuwait, an oil refinery, and a residential neighborhood, resulting in the deaths of five people and the wounding of eight.
  7. In 1983, Iran attacked Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Gulf. Subsequently, Kuwait tankers were reflagged as American and provided escort by U.S. warships.
  8. In 1984, Hezbollah attacked a US Embassy annex in east Beirut, resulting in the deaths 24 people.
  9. In 1985, several Gulf soldiers and citizens were killed when an attempt was made to bomb the motorcade of His Highness, late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Amir of Kuwait.
  10. In 1985, the Iranian regime masterminded the hijacking of TWA flight; 39 American passengers were held captive for weeks.
  11. In 1986, Iran urged its pilgrims to carry out riots during Hajj season, which resulted in a stampede and the deaths of hundreds of people.
  12. Hezbollah Al-Hejaz set fire to an oil facility in Ras Tanura on the east coast of Saudi Arabia in 1987.  In 1988, the pro-Iranian organization attacked the Saudi Petrochemical Company (SADAF) facility in Jubail, in eastern Saudi Arabia.
  13. In 1987, Iran was involved in the murder of Saudi diplomat Mosaed Alghamdi in Tehran, the same year Saudi Arabia foiled attempts by Iranian pilgrims to smuggle explosives in to the country.
  14. In 1987, the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked and Saudi diplomat Reza Abdulmohsen Al-Nozha was assaulted and taken by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces.  He was released following negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
  15. Iranian surrogates were responsible for the abductions and killings of a number of American diplomats in Lebanon in the 1980s.
  16. Iran was involved in a series of assassinations of Iranian opposition members, including:
    a. The murder of Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Rahman Ghassemlou and his deputy Abdullah Azar,
        in Vienna in 1989.

    b. The assassination in France by the Iranian revolutionary guard of Shapour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister
        of Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, which also took the lives of a French officer and woman. 

    c. The assassinations of Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Sadegh Sharafk and his assistants Fattah
        Abdoulie, Homayoun Ardalan, and Nuri Dechrda, in the bombing of the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in 1992. 
        A German arrest warrant was issued for Iran’s then Minister of Intelligence Ali Fallahian role in the bombing.

    d. The assassination of former Iranian diplomat and founder of the Iran Freedom Foundation Ali Akbar Tabatabaei in
        Bethesda, Maryland in 1980.
  17. The Iranian regime was involved in the assassination in Thailand of Saudi diplomats Abdullah Al-Malki, Abdullah Al-Bassri, Fahad Al-Bahli, and Ahmed Al-Saif in 1989 and 1990.
  18. Iran was involved in the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994, which resulted in the deaths of 85 people and the wounding 300 others. In 2003, British police arrested Hade Soleimanpour, Iran’s former ambassador to Argentina, for conspiring to carry out the attack.
  19. In 1994, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release stating that four Iranian diplomats were involved in a covert operation at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas that was aimed at forcing Iranian refugees to return to their country.
  20. Iran was involved in the Khobar bombings in 1996, which was carried out by the pro-Iranian organization Hezbolla-Al Hijaz and resulted in the deaths of 120 people, including 19 Americans. Iran provided protection to the offenders, including Ahmed AlMoghassil, a Saudi citizen who was arrested in Lebanon in 2015 carrying an Iranian passport. The terrorist attacks were directed by the Iranian military attaché in Bahrain. The perpetrators were trained in both Lebanon and Iran. The explosives were smuggled from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia by Hezbollah.  Evidence is available with Saudi Arabia and the governments of a number of friendly countries.
  21. Iran has provided a safe haven for a number of Al-Qaeda leaders since 2001, including Saad bin Laden, Saif Al-Adel and others after Sept. 11, 2001. It refuses to hand Al-Qaeda leaders over to Saudi Arabia despite the Kingdom’s continuous requests.
  22. Iran was involved in the bombings of three residential compounds in Riyadh in 2003, which killed many Saudi citizens and foreign residents, including Americans, at the instruction of one of the Al-Qaeda leaders in Iran.
  23. In 2003, the Kingdom of Bahrain arrested members of a new terrorist cell that was receiving support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
  24. In 2003, the Iranian regime supported Shiite elements in Iraq by forming political parties and militias loyal to Iran. These activities resulted in the deaths of some 4,400 U.S. service members and tens of thousands of civilians, particularly of Sunni Arabs. Former U.S. ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said that the Americans who died were killed in operations carried out by groups backed directly by Iran.
  25. In 2006, Washington said that Iran supported the Taliban against US forces in Afghanistan and that it had armed groups different ethnic and sectarian groups to strike the US near Iran’s borders. It said further that the Iranian regime had offered a reward of $1000 for every American soldier killed in Afghanistan.
  26. In 2007, the US Senate passed a resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. In 2011, Iran was involved in the assassination of Saudi diplomat Hassan Al-Qahtani in Karachi.
  27. In 2011, the U.S. foiled an attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and proved the involvement of the Iranian regime. The criminal complaint unveiled in federal court in New York identified two people involved in the plot: Mansour Arbabsear, who was arrested and imprisoned for 25 years, and Gholam Shakuri, an officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who is currently in Iran and wanted by the U.S. judiciary.
  28. In October 2012, hackers from Iran's Revolutionary Guard carried out cyber-attacks against oil and gas companies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described the cyber-attacks as among the most destructive in the private sector. President Obama's administration said that it is aware that this is the work of the Iranian government.
  29. In 2012, a plot to assassinate US officials and diplomats in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was discovered. A Shiite group in Azerbaijan, backed by Iran and working under the instructions of the Revolutionary Guard, was behind the plot.
  30. In 2016, the Kuwaiti criminal court sentenced two members of the “Abdali cell” to death. One has Iranian citizenship. They were charged with carrying out acts that jeopardize the unity and security of Kuwait, and with actively collaborating with Iran and Hezbollah to carry out acts of hostility.
  31. In January 2016, Iran admitted officially through the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, that it had 200 thousand Iranian fighters outside the country – in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
  32. Iranian diplomatic missions form spy networks in different countries to plan and execute terrorist operations. The countries that discovered that Iranian spy networks exist on their territory were: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2013, Kuwait in 2010 and 2015, Bahrain in 2010 and 2011, Kenya in 2015, Egypt in 2005, 2008, 2011, Jordan in 2015, Yemen in 2012, the UAE in 2013, Turkey in 2012, and Nigeria in 2015.
  33. In addition to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which was described by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as the number one terrorist organization in the world, the Iranian regime founded many terrorist cells and militias in Iraq, Yemen and other countries, and used them to destabilize.
  34. Iran sent members of the Revolutionary Guard to Iraq to train and organize Shiite militias and use them to kill Sunnis and international forces.
  35. Iran is the largest distributor of IED explosives in the world. IEDs are used to blow up cars and armored vehicles and have caused the deaths of hundreds of members of international forces in Iraq.
  36. Iran has violated the sanctity of diplomatic missions, including the attack on the U.S. embassy in 1979 and the detention of its employees for 444 days, the attack on the Saudi Embassy in 1987, the attack on the Embassy of Kuwait in 1987, the attack on the Russian Embassy in 1988, the attack on the Danish embassy in 2006, the assault on a Kuwaiti diplomat in 2007, the attack on the Pakistani embassy in 2009, the attack on the British Embassy in 2011, and the attack on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad in 2016.
  37. The Iranian regime did not protect Saudi diplomatic facilities during the 2016 attacks, despite repeated requests. Security men even entered the embassy building after the attacks and stole its property.
  38. Saudi Arabia is not the first country to cut off ties with the Iranian regime as a result of its acts of aggression and violation of the sanctity of embassies. The United States, Britain, Canada and other European countries preceded Saudi Arabia. Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen also severed ties. Recently, Bahrain, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti have cut off relations with Iranian regime because of Iran’s interference in their affairs and for the connection between the Iranian regime and sponsoring terrorism.
  39. While the Kingdom has been a target of many terrorist attacks, the Iranian regime has not been exposed to any acts of terrorism, whether from Al-Qaeda or Daesh, giving weight to suspicions that Iran is working with terrorist organizations.
  40. The rise of sectarianism in the Arab world was introduced to the region after the Iranian revolution in 1979. Iran has interfered in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. One of its agents, Heidar Moslehi, the former Iranian Minister of Intelligence, ranted that Iran occupies four Arab capitals.
  41. The Iranian regime enticed many Gulf citizens by taking advantage of their religious emotions and smuggling them illegally to Iran. They traveled illegally through third countries without visas, and their Iranian handlers instructed them to leave by boat into international waters, where Iran picked them up and claimed to rescue them. The Iranian regime provided them with training for armed operations and other terrorist acts and sent them to their countries to carry out terrorist acts.
  42. Perhaps the greatest example of Iran’s interference is its flagrant meddling in Syria through its Revolutionary Guard forces, the Al-Quds Force and the recruitment of Hezbollah militia and sectarian militias from a number of countries to fight alongside the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
  43. The Iranian interference in the affairs of the Arab region was strongly rejected by the Arab League in all its decisions, including its last meeting on Jan. 10, 2016.
  44. Iran’s claim that its embassy in Yemen was bombed was disproved by facts backed up with photos.
  45. Iran fabricated the claim that one of Makkah’s imams spoke negatively about Shiites. Audio and videos of all the speeches of the imams of the Holy Mosque disprove this charge.
  46. Nimr Al-Nimr, a person whom Iran calls a peaceful political activist, was convicted of terrorism charges along with 46 others. He was convicted of establishing a terrorist cell that plans and executes terrorist acts and recruits and arms people to carry them out. Those acts that have resulted in the deaths of a number of security officers.
  47. The Iranian regime was condemned by the international community and the United Nations for human rights violations and its support of terrorism, which was confirmed by UN General Assembly Report A70/411 issued Oct. 6, 2015.
  48. According to international reports, Iran executed more than 1,000 people during 2015, an average of three executions a day. The pace of these executions increased during the first seven months of 2015. The Iranian Supreme Court approved the executions of 27 Sunni religious scholars without any justification.
  49. Iran continuous to repress its minorities, including Arab Ahwaz, Kurds, and Baluchs.
  50. Iran is in violation of Security Council Resolution 2216 with regard to Yemen because it continues to supply weapons to the Houthi militias. Iranian ships carrying weapons, including rockets, were intercepted on their way to the Houthis in Yemen.
  51. The Iranian regime claims to protect its agents, but does not hesitate to dispose of them as soon as their terrorist acts are discovered. This happened to one of those who participated in Khobar bombing.
  52. Iran’s foreign minister’s allegation that Saudi Arabia opposed the nuclear agreement is not true. Saudi Arabia publicly supported any agreement that would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and includes a rigid and consistent inspection mechanism, with the option of imposing sanctions should Iran violate the agreement, which was affirmed by the United States.
  53. Iran should determine whether it is a revolution in a state of chaos and disobeys international laws or a country that respects international agreements and treaties and the principles of good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
  54. Since the beginning of the Iranian revolution, Saudi Arabia has tried to reach out to Iran in peace, harmony, peaceful co-existence and good neighborly relations, but Iran responded by spreading sectarianism, provocation, killing and destruction.
  55. If Iran wants to show reason and logic, it must start with itself before asking others to do so.

Source:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia