The Logic of Iran’s Global Terror Strategy

During the past few weeks, the Islamic Republic has brutally tried to crush mass demonstrations throughout its borders. In an in-depth study of Tehran’s strategies and tactics, Yossi Kuperwasser argues that such domestic repression is part of the same comprehensive strategy that includes its support for militias, guerrillas, and terrorist groups in the Middle East and further afield, as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Each of these endeavors, writes Kuperwasser, serves the ayatollahs’ “aims of spreading Islam and reducing the influence of Western states.” The tactics vary:

Iran practices asymmetric warfare because, although it is far too weak militarily to defeat the United States, it can still have a significant impact upon America and its allies [while simultaneously] influencing other countries and exacting from the United States a high price for interfering in the pursuit of its goals. Undoubtedly, the most obvious example of this is Iran’s nuclear-weapons program; not only does it negate the disparity in military strength between Iran and the world’s primary superpower, it has also enabled Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s regime to strengthen its domestic position with the lifting of sanctions [following the 2015 nuclear deal].

Iran is [also] able to pose a more direct threat through its sponsorship of terrorism. This sponsorship has expanded significantly over time and involves proxies within the Middle East, as well as worldwide sleeper cells.

Tehran’s network stretches far beyond such groups as Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Hizballah in Lebanon, to include both terrorist sleeper cells and lucrative criminal activity in Latin America:

[Some Iranian] sleeper cells [not only threaten] U.S. allies and trading partners but have [also] moved into organized crime to fund themselves, to undermine further the countries in which they operate, and to gain recruits for their operations. The most notable example of this is in Brazil, in which [Iranian agents’] large-scale weapons smuggling has benefited local gangs and cartels. This, along with the recruitment, brainwashing, and training of local youths through “cultural” centers and Shiite mosques have provided Iran with a high number of armed and ideologically-driven youth, . . . ready to attack [targets in the U.S. and abroad] in the event of war with the United States.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Latin America, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security