Terrorism in Iran: An Analysis of Non-State Militant Organizations in the Islamic Republic – By Micah Peckarsky

This analysis argues that internal conditions in Iran – specifically the marginalization of ethnic and religious minorities, the authoritarian nature of the regime, and its hostility to any ideological or political alternatives – have fostered the emergence of several armed groups challenging the Iranian state. This study focuses on four non-state militant groups: Jundallah, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), Arab militancy in Khuzestan, and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

Micah Peckarsky, Fletcher MALD 2013, is a second-year master’s candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, concentrating in International Security Studies and Southwest Asia & Islamic Civilization. Prior to Fletcher, Micah worked as an analyst for Helios Global, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based government contractor, on international security issues and political trends, focusing on the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Middle East Studies from McGill University in Montreal.

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INTRODUCTION

The Islamic Republic of Iran faces ongoing pressure from the international community regarding the country’s nuclear program; its support of militant organizations abroad, including Lebanese Hizbollah and Palestinian Hamas; and its political and military influence throughout the Middle East and South Asia. While these issues garner significant attention by policymakers, academics, and analysts, the issue of terrorism within Iran is also highly significant and understudied, as a diverse set of non-state armed groups operate within the Islamic Republic and pose an ongoing security challenge to the regime. Moreover, within the context of a possible conflict between Iran and Israel and/or the U.S. and the prospects of regime change, it is essential to understand Iran’s internal security dynamics and threats.

This analysis argues that internal conditions in Iran – specifically the marginalization of ethnic and religious minorities, the authoritarian nature of the regime, and its hostility to any ideological or political alternatives – have fostered the emergence of several armed groups challenging the Iranian state. This study focuses on four non-state militant groups: Jundallah, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), Arab militancy in Khuzestan, and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). These organizations are the four most significant non-state armed group threats in the Islamic Republic, though they are by no means the only militant organizations relevant in the Iranian context.

This comparative study discusses each militant organization’s motivating ideologies, capabilities, areas of operations, and targets. The groups are also compared and contrasted in terms of processes of radicalization, decisions to adopt militancy, enabling environments, and overall effectiveness in achieving their objectives. Finally, it derives conclusions about each organization and about non-state militancy within Iran. While the Iranian government has largely contained these militant groups through a heavy-handed military approach, significantly reducing their operational capabilities, the failure to address the underlying drivers of these armed organizations suggests that they will persist as security and political issues within the Islamic Republic.

IRAN’S DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT

The ethnic, sectarian, and demographic composition of Iran has helped facilitate the development of domestic militancy and formation of armed organizations.  Iran’s internal environment features both competing nationalisms (Persian, Baloch, Kurdish, and Azeri, among others) and religious identities (Shia, Sunni, Zoroastrian, Christian, and Baha’i, among others). While Iran has a religious majority of 89% Shia and an ethnic majority of 61% Persian, its Sunni minority makes up 9% of the population and it has sizable ethnic minorities of Azeris (16%), Kurds (10%), Arabs (2%), and Baloch (2%), among others.[1] [2] The geographic separation and the political, economic, and religious marginalization of Iran’s ethnic minorities have given rise to Baloch, Kurdish, and Arab militancy. In contrast to these ethnic and sectarian-based grievances, MEK seeks to implement deep political and ideological changes in Iran in its aim to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

GROUP PROFILES

This section provides a brief organizational profile for each militant group discussed in this analysis.

Baloch Militancy: Jundallah

Jundallah (Arabic for ‘Soldiers of God’), also referred to as the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PRMI), is an ethnic Baloch nationalist and radical Sunni Islamist militant organization waging a violent campaign against the Islamic Republic in the southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan. Jundallah’s militant operations are rooted in the group’s notion of Baloch nationalism, opposition to the Iranian state that it perceives as religiously and ethnically exclusive and discriminatory, and a radical Sunni Islamist discourse.[3] The group, which was placed on the U.S. Department of State’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) in November 2010,[4] likely has ties to Baloch nationalist insurgents in Pakistan,[5] and has been linked to both regional arms and drug smuggling.[6]

Kurdish Militancy: PJAK

The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, also known as Partiya Jiyana Azadi Kurdistan, or PJAK, is an ethnic Kurdish militant organization waging an armed insurgency against the Iranian government in northwestern Iran, from the group’s base in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq. PJAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK),[7] a Kurdish militant organization based in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq that is fighting an armed insurgency against the Turkish government. Following the U.S. -led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent federalization of the country, which advanced the political status of Iraqi Kurds, Kurdish nationalism was bolstered in Iran[8] and prompted the formation of PJAK in 2004-2005 in a bid to achieve autonomy for Iranian Kurds.[9] The U.S Department of Treasury designated PJAK as a terrorist organization in February 2009.[10]

Arab Militancy in Khuzestan

Iran’s western province of Khuzestan along the Iran-Iraq border is home to most of the Islamic Republic’s ethnic Arab minority, known as the Ahwazi. Several Ahwazi militant organizations have developed, including, among others: Hizb al-Nahda al-Arabi al-Ahwazi (Ahwazi Arab Renaissance Party),[11] Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz,[12] al-Ahwaz Arab People’s Democratic Front (APDF),[13] Arbav Martyrs of Khuzestan, and the Afwaj al-Nahdah al-Musallahah Al-Ahwaz.[14] Several of these groups operate political wings in Iran and/or abroad. Their goals range from achieving greater economic and political equality and development for the Ahwazi population in Khuzestan, to the formal establishment of an independent Ahwazi state.[15] Compared to the paramilitary capacities of Jundallah and PJAK, these Ahwazi groups have opaque and likely fluid organizational structures, maintain minimal armed capabilities, and may even have ceased to exist as distinct and independent militant entities following a spate of violence in Khuzestan in 2005-2006. Khuzestan’s ethnic Arab Sunni population has also been the target of radical Salafi militant organizations based in Iraq, which urge Ahwazis to join the ‘international jihadi movement,’ though there is no evidence of Ahwazi receptiveness to this message.[16]

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK)

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK; also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, MKO; or the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, PMOI), is an Iranian militant group that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic based on a mix of Marxist, Islamist, and feminist principles.[17] Following the broad-based Islamic Revolution in 1979 that deposed Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi, Ayatollah Seyyed Rouhollah Khomeini and the new clerical regime began to purge leftist elements, including MEK. Despite this crackdown in the early 1980s and the group’s subsequent exile to France and Iraq, MEK continued to conduct large-scale attacks through 2003 based on sponsorship from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Designated by the U.S. as an FTO in October 1997, and then removed from the list in September 2012,[18] MEK is affiliated with the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group that includes numerous organizations that aim to topple the Iranian government.[19] MEK is led by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, a husband and wife team that have created an intense and autocratic cult-like following among the group’s members. Massoud Rajavi went into hiding in 2003, likely in Iraq, and Maryam Rajavi currently lives in exile in France.[20] While the organization’s capabilities have been significantly degraded since the fall of Saddam’s government, MEK may maintain some operational presence within Iran.[21]

PROCESSES OF RADICALIZATION AND DECISIONS TO ADOPT MILITANCY

The case studies of Jundallah, PJAK, Ahwazi militancy, and MEK, offer a rich basis to understand the trends of radicalization and decisions to adopt militancy among these organizations. Forest argues that the radicalization of an individual and the eventual decision to engage in violence is the result of personal-level characteristics, of which there is no common profile, aligning with an organization’s ideology, objectives, and tactics. The organization must boast a competent leadership structure to organize the use of militancy, sufficient membership, the articulation of grievances, strategic goals, and a vision of the future, among other attributes. The radicalization nexus is dynamic and fluid, and can take place within various local, national, and international contexts.[22]

Eidelson and Eidelson identify five main beliefs that can propel groups toward conflict: superiority, injustice, vulnerability, distrust, and helplessness.[23] Kidd and Walter suggest that militant organizations use violence in pursuit of any of five distinct political objectives: regime change, territorial change, policy change, social control, and status quo maintenance.[24] Finally, Byman advances the concept of ethnic terrorism, which is the use of violence by a subnational ethnic group to advance its cause. Unlike ideologically or religiously-motivated violence, ethnic terrorism employs militancy on behalf of a particular ethnic constituency in order to draw attention to the plight of that ethnic community, garnering more recruits and financial assistance.[25] Components of these frameworks can be applied to Jundallah, PJAK, and Ahwazi militancy, specifically the concepts of injustice, distrust, policy change, and ethnic terrorism.

Baloch Militancy: Jundallah

Jundallah, which formed in 2002-2003, is fighting on behalf of the Sunni Baloch minority against a Farsi-speaking, Shia, and Persian-dominated Iranian government. Within these ethnic and religious cleavages, Jundallah cites historic injustices and the political, economic, and social marginalization of the Baloch population as factors that necessitate militancy to push Tehran to enact significant policy change in Sistan-Balochistan.[26] In contrast to the Islamic Republic’s Shia religious majority and Persian ethnic majority, Iran’s southeast province of Sistan-Balochistan has a majority Sunni and ethnically Baloch population. The ethnic Baloch population in Iran is between two and four million people[27] and is located almost entirely in Sistan-Balochistan. Additionally, nearly all Iranian Baloch are Sunni. In these religious and ethnic contexts, Jundallah views itself as defending the rights of the Sunni Baloch minority against a repressive, racist, and religiously prejudiced Iranian government.[28]

Jundallah’s militancy is strongly motivated by the social, economic, and political status of the Baloch population in Sistan-Balochistan. The province has the highest rates of illiteracy, unemployment, and drug addiction (to heroin in particular) in Iran.[29] These conditions, which have persisted for several decades, form a core component of Jundallah’s ideology—that the militant group must use force to push the Iranian government to address these massive inequalities, promote development within Sistan-Balochistan, and regard Iranian Baloch as fully equal citizens of the state.[30]

Kurdish Militancy: PJAK

Similar to Jundallah, PJAK was motivated to take up arms against the Iranian government based on the broader trend of Kurdish nationalism in the region, the minority status of Iran’s Kurds, and the socio-economic and political discrimination of Iranian Kurds.[31] Most Iranian Kurds are Sunni, though there are sizable Shia and Christian minorities within the community. The Kurds, constituting about 10% of Iran’s population, or 7.8 million,[32] identify with Kurdish populations in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria through the notion of a “Greater Kurdistan.” Despite being mostly Sunni, the conflict between PJAK and Tehran is largely along ethnic, rather than religious lines, in pursuit of a Kurdish nationalist agenda.[33]

Iranian Kurds are concentrated in the northwestern provinces of Kermanshah, Ilam, Kurdistan, and West Azerbaijan. Much like Baloch nationalism, Kurdish nationalist aspirations in Iran have long been suppressed under the administrations of both the Pahlavi dynasty and the Islamic Republic. The territories comprising Iranian Kurdistan are also among the country’s poorest and least developed. Moreover, Kurdish political activists, including those with no ties to PJAK or other militant groups, have been frequently arrested and executed by Iranian security forces under charges of terrorism and sedition as part of a policy of anti-Kurdish discrimination within Iran’s political system.[34] PJAK, however, has not officially called for the unification of the region’s Kurdish populations into a single political entity or secession from the Islamic Republic. Rather, it seeks the creation of a federalized political structure within the Iranian state.[35]

Arab Militancy in Khuzestan

Ahwazi militancy in Khuzestan is driven by perceptions among the country’s ethnic Arab population that injustices are committed by Tehran in the form of social, economic, political, linguistic, and cultural marginalization.[36] Iranian-Arabs number between one and three million people and are predominantly Shia, though there is also a Sunni minority. While most Ahwazis speak Farsi and Arabic, the community maintains a strong sense of Arab identity, as well as tribal and cultural ties to Shia Arab populations in southern Iraq. Despite containing about 80% of Iran’s oil and gas reserves, Khuzestan is among the Islamic Republic’s least developed provinces. This is partly a legacy of extensive fighting during the Iran-Iraq war (Saddam Hussein seized Khuzestan in 1980 and held it until 1982),[37] but many Ahwazis believe it is due to a measured policy of discrimination by Tehran against the country’s ethnic Arab population.[38] In addition to social, economic, political, linguistic, and cultural marginalization,[39] Ahwazis accuse Tehran of trying to alter the demographic balance in Khuzestan by encouraging non-Arabs to immigrate to the province.[40] Ahwazi militancy, as well as the case of Jundallah and PJAK, also fit within Byman’s model of ethnic terrorism, as each group is pursuing the agenda of different ethnic minorities (Baloch, Kurdish, and Arab), rather than the interests of the Islamic Republic’s Persian-Shia majority.

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK)

MEK follows a different trend with regards to radicalization and the adoption of militancy.[41] According to Eidelson and Eidelson, MEK is motivated by self-perceptions of superiority, in this case ideological. Within Kidd and Walter’s framework of objectives, MEK seeks regime change, policy change, and social control, and is still actively pursuing these goals, though the group has publicly denounced militancy in favor of a non-violent, political approach.

Founded in 1963 in Iran by a group of university-educated Marxists, MEK has an extensive and diverse history of carrying out militant operations, including suicide bombings, armed ambushes, cross-border raids, and artillery and tank barrages, among other tactics. During the 1970s when the U.S. and Iran maintained close relations, MEK militants attacked a variety of U.S. diplomatic, military, and financial targets in Iran, culminating in its participation in the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran from November 1979 to January 1981.[42] MEK was also active in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the Shah, but then clashed with the post-revolutionary administration led by Ayatollah Khomeini, and carried out a campaign of violence that targeted top personnel of Khomeini’s new regime, thus shifting the organization’s targeting focus.[43] In 1986, MEK moved its base of operations to Iraq, where it enjoyed financial, military, and logistical support from Saddam Hussein’s government.[44] MEK continued attacks from its base in Iraq after the Iran-Iraq war. MEK militants allegedly participated in Iraqi military crackdowns against Iraqi Kurdish and Shia uprisings in 1991. MEK also launched a series of attacks within Iran against government, military, police, and civilian targets in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[45]

ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS

Analyzing the domestic environment of Iran, specifically in the provinces on the periphery of the country, as well as the dynamics of neighboring states, is essential in understanding the militancy of Jundallah, PJAK, Ahwazi militancy, and MEK. Chenoweth argues that the political instability of a regime is the most important variable explaining the development and persistence of terrorism.[46] Wahlert and Patrick build on this concept by discussing weak, failing, and failed states, where there exists ungoverned territory and/or zones of competing governance. In these environments, terrorist organizations take advantage of these power vacuums and lack of government authority, and are often able to thrive.[47] Finally, Naghshpour, St. Marie, and Stanton, Jr. focus on shadow economies, in which terrorist organizations utilize informal and/or illicit economic activities in order to fund their militant operations.[48]

While the Iranian regime is an authoritarian administration that exerts strong authority in Tehran and most major urban centers, the central government wields significantly less control over territories in the country’s periphery, particularly Sistan-Balochistan and along the Iranian-Pakistani border, northwestern Iran and along the northern portion of the Iranian-Iraqi border, and Khuzestan in western Iran. This relatively weak central government authority, along with Iran’s porous borders with Pakistan and Iraq, have allowed Jundallah, PJAK, and Ahwazi militancy to take root.[49] Jundallah’s involvement in regional arms and drug smuggling has also helped finance and sustain its militant operations.[50]

The case of MEK follows a different pattern with respect to enabling environments. In this context, the frameworks of political instability, weak states, and shadow economies are less relevant, and the circumstances of a protracted and major regional war are more salient.[51] Within the context of the Iran-Iraq war, MEK received extensive patronage from its sponsor state, Iraq. While MEK existed prior to the Iran-Iraq conflict, this patronage enabled it to escalate and broaden its militant activities. Following the Iran-Iraq war, and more significantly after the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, MEK was stripped of its militant capability by Coalition Forces.[52]

OVERALL EFFECTIVENESS IN ACHIEVING ORGANIZATIONAL OBJECTIVES

Jundallah, PJAK, Ahwazi militancy, and MEK, have carried out extensive militant operations, often inflicting mass casualties and damage. However, despite their armed campaigns, none of these organizations have achieved their strategic goals or prompted significant change in the policies of the Islamic Republic. Instead, Jundallah militancy in Sistan-Balochistan, PJAK operations in northwestern Iran, and Ahwazi violence in Khuzestan elicited massive military responses from Tehran in order to put down these threats.

Baloch Militancy: Jundallah

Jundallah has not carried out a major attack since December 2010,[53] and many analysts assessed that the 2010 arrest and execution of the group’s top leader, Abdelmalik Rigi, by Iranian authorities dealt the organization a significant blow to its operational capabilities. However, an October 2012 suicide bombing outside the Shia Imam Hussein mosque in Chabahar, Sistan-Balochistan, by Baloch militants claiming membership in a previously unknown group called Harakat Ansar Iran (HAI, Movement of the Partisans of Iran), suggests a possible reincarnation of Jundallah. But compared to Jundallah, HAI’s public statements and online content suggest that while the new group may draw inspiration from its predecessor, HAI maintains a much more explicitly sectarian and separatist agenda, and shared affinity with a global radical Islamist ideology.[54]

Kurdish Militancy: PJAK

PJAK was pushed out of Iran into northern Iraq in September 2011, as PJAK and the Iranian government reached an agreement to halt violence between the two sides following an Iranian military offensive and the arrest and killings of several top PJAK officials.[55] This deal forced PJAK to withdraw its military presence from Iran to its base in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq.[56] While this deal has largely held since then, PJAK likely maintains some operational presence in Iranian Kurdistan and there is a strong possibility that PJAK could resume militant operations in Iran in the future based on long-standing grievances it holds against the Iranian government.[57]

Arab Militancy in Khuzestan

Since 2006, there have been no known instances of terrorism or political violence in Khuzestan or elsewhere conducted by Ahwazi militant organizations. However, based on long-standing protests by the Ahwazi population both in Iran and abroad that their community is subjected to various forms of discrimination by the Iranian government,[58] there is a high likelihood that Ahwazi militancy, either by known organizations or other groups, could take place in Khuzestan and beyond in the future.

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK)

MEK no longer boasts a militant capacity following the surrender of its arms in 2003.[59] Following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, MEK lost its state sponsor, but over 3,000 members of the group continue to be based at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, under the supervision of Iraqi authorities, in a controversial and ongoing legal and diplomatic dispute between the Iraqi government and MEK regarding the future location of the group’s personnel.[60] MEK claims that it renounced violence in the 2001-2003 time period,[61] though the validity of these claims is unclear, as this is likely motivated by its degraded capabilities after the fall of the Hussein regime, efforts to curry favor in Western capitals, and attempts to portray the organization as a legitimate alternative to the Islamic Republic despite its extensive militant history and lack of popular credibility within Iran.[62]

CONCLUSION

This analysis has examined terrorism in the Islamic Republic of Iran through the case studies of Jundallah, PJAK, Ahwazi militancy, and MEK. Through exploring each armed organization’s motivating ideologies, capabilities, areas of operations, and militant targets, as well as their processes of radicalization, decisions to adopt militancy, enabling environments, and overall effectiveness in achieving their objectives, several important lessons are evident. First, terrorism within Iran is rooted partly in the stark divides between the country’s Persian-Shia majority that dominates the Islamic Republic’s agenda and the sizable ethnic minorities (Baloch, Kurdish, and Arab) that are subject to significant social, economic, political, linguistic, and cultural marginalization. Additionally, MEK fits within the framework of competing ideologies and must also be considered within the context of regional developments, mostly notably the Iran-Iraq war and the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. Finally, while none of these terrorist organizations have succeeded in achieving their aims, long-standing and ongoing grievances suggest that militancy related to these groups and their associated trends is likely to continue in the future.

Within the background of ongoing debates among policymakers, academics, and analysts about Iran’s nuclear program, a potential conflict between Iran and Israel and/or the U.S., the possibility of regime change and the toppling of the Islamic Republic is often raised. In this context, it is important to understand the internal dynamics within Iran, and specifically the diversity of domestic actors beyond the clerical establishment and other traditional state institutions. Therefore, an ongoing focus on terrorism within Iran, in addition to the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy and support of militancy abroad, is essential.

 

The views and opinions expressed in articles are strictly the author’s own, and do not necessarily represent those of Al Nakhlah, its Advisory and Editorial Boards, or the Program for Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization (SWAIC) at The Fletcher School.

 

Works cited


[1] According to data compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency, as of July 2012, Iran’s total population is projected at 78,868,711. Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, World Factbook, July 2012 <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[2] It is relevant to note that demographic data for Iran, particularly related to ethnic and religious minority representation, are often used to strengthen and/or undermine a given community’s size for political motivations. This is frequently the case for data produced by official Iranian government outlets or activists and organizations based outside of Iran representing ethnic and religious minority interests. For more data on the ethnic and religious makeup of Iran, see Eliz Sanasarian, Religious Minorities in Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Massoume Price, Iran’s Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2005).

[3] Jamsheed K. Choksy, “Iran’s Enemy is not America’s Friend,” Foreign Policy, October 20, 2009, <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/20/irans_enemy_is_not_americas_friend?page=full&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[4] “US Designates Iran’s Jundallah as Terrorist Organization,” CNN, November 3, 2010, <http://articles.cnn.com/2010-11-03/world/jundallah.terrorist.designation_1_suicide-bombings-terrorist-organization-sunni-group?_s=PM:WORLD&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[5] Chris Zambelis, “Insurrection in Iranian Balochistan,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, January 11, 2008, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=4648&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=
167&no_cache=1> (accessed February 1, 2013).

[6] Ishaan Tharoor, “Iran’s Arrest of an Extremist Foe: Did Pakistan Help?,” Time, February 25, 2010, <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1968126,00.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[7] U.S. Department of Treasury, Press Release, February 4, 2009, “Treasury Designates Free Life Party of Kurdistan a Terrorist Organization,” <http://turkey.usembassy.gov/pr_020509.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[8] Chris Zambelis, “Iran’s Challenges from Within: An Overview of Ethno-Sectarian Unrest,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, August 2, 2007, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=4346&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=182&no_cache=1&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[9] Chris Zambelis, “The Factors Behind Rebellion In Iranian Kurdistan,” CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, March 1, 2011, <http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-factors-behind-rebellion-in-iranian-kurdistan&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013). Other analysts argue that PJAK was formed in the 1997-1999 time frame, also in Iraqi Kurdistan. For more information, see: James Brandon, “Iran’s Kurdish Threat: PJAK,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, June 15, 2006, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=805&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=181&no_cache=1&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[10] U.S. Department of Treasury, Press Release, “Treasury Designates Free Life Party of Kurdistan a Terrorist Organization.”

[11] Zambelis, “Iran’s Challenges from Within: An Overview of Ethno-Sectarian Unrest.”

[12] “Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, <http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4663&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[13] “Al-Ahwaz Arab People’s Democratic Front,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, <http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4607&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[14] “Arbav Martyrs of Khuzestan,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, <http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4567&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[15] “Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz”; “Al-Ahwaz Arab People’s Democratic Front”; “Arbav Martyrs of Khuzestan.”

[16] “Iraqi Militants Encourage People of Khuzestan to Launch Jihad Against Iran,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, October 14, 2011, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=38532&cHash=fa8ff5910b5efcd736e21cd10a9c3344&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[17] Zambelis, “Iran’s Challenges from Within: An Overview of Ethno-Sectarian Unrest”; “Jundullah Admits MKO Connection,” Press TV (Iran), June 3, 2009, <http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/96846.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[18] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Counterterrorism, “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” September 28, 2012, <http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Scott Shane, “Iranian Dissidents Convince U.S. to Drop Terror Label,” The New York Times, September 21, 2012, <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/world/middleeast/iranian-opposition-group-mek-wins-removal-from-us-terrorist-list.html?pagewanted=all&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[19] Chris Zambelis, “Baloch Nationalists Up the Ante in Iran,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, February 28, 2007, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=1024&tx_ttnews%
5BbackPid%5D=240&no_cache=1> (accessed February 1, 2013).

[20] Chris Zambelis, “Is Iran’s Mujahideen-e-Khalq a Threat to the Islamist Regime?” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, May 29, 2008, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=4950&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=167&no_cache=1&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Elizabeth Rubin, “The Cult of Rajavi,” The New York Times, July 13, 2003, <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/the-cult-of-rajavi.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Scott Shane, “For Obscure Iranian Exile Group, Broad Support in U.S.,” The New York Times, November 26, 2011, <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/us/politics/lobbying-support-for-iranian-exile-group-crosses-party-lines.html?pagewanted=all&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[21] David Shariatmadari, “The Curious Case of Iran’s Mujahideen,” The Guardian (United Kingdom), June 26, 2009, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/25/iran-mujahedin-pmoi-mko&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK),” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, <http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=3632&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[22] James J.F. Forest, “Terrorism as a Product of Choices and Perceptions,” in Russell D. Howard and Bruce Hoffman, eds., Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011).

[23] Roy Eidelson and Judy Eidelson, “Dangerous Ideas: Five Beliefs that Propel Groups Toward Conflict,” American Psychologist 58 (3) (March 2003): 182-192.

[24] Andrew Kidd and Barbara Walter, “The Strategies of Terrorism,” International Security 31(1) (Summer 2006): 49-80.

[25] Daniel Byman, “The Logic of Ethnic Terrorism,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 21 (2) (1998): 149-169.

[26] Chris Zambelis, “Balochi Nationalists Intensify Violent Rebellion in Iran,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, February 9, 2009, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=34479&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=412&no_cache=1&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[27] Chris Zambelis, “Political Theater or Counterterrorism? Assessing Iran’s Capture of Jundallah Leader Abdelmalek Rigi,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, April 2, 2010, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=36230&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=26&cHash=2c7eae88e7&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[28] Zambelis, “Balochi Nationalists Intensify Violent Rebellion in Iran.”

[29] Karlos Zurutuza, “Inside Iran’s Most Secretive Region,” The Diplomat (Japan), May 16, 2011,
<http://the-diplomat.com/2011/05/16/inside-iran%E2%80%99s-most-secretive-region/?utm_source=
The+Diplomat+List&utm_campaign=b4234713d8-Diplomat_Brief_2011_vol18&utm_medium=email> (accessed February 1, 2013).

[30] Amir Hossein Asayesh, “Poverty and Blind Violence in Baluchestan,” Mianeh, January 15, 2008, <http://mianeh.net/article/poverty-and-blind-violence-baluchestan&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[31] Zambelis, “The Factors Behind Rebellion In Iranian Kurdistan.”

[32] Various estimates put Iran’s Kurdish population between five and eleven million people.

[33] Zambelis, “The Factors Behind Rebellion In Iranian Kurdistan.”

[34] Zambelis, “The Factors Behind Rebellion In Iranian Kurdistan”; Amnesty International, “Iran: Human Rights Abuses Against the Kurdish Minority,” July 2008, <http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/088/2008/en/d140767b-5e45-11dd-a592-c739f9b70de8/mde130882008eng.pdf&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[35] Graeme Wood, “Iran Bombs Iraq: Meet the Kurdish Guerillas Who Want to Topple the Tehran Regime,” Slate, June 12, 2006, <http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dispatches/2006/06/iran_bombs_iraq.single.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Derek Henry Flood, “Between the Hammer and the Anvil: An Exclusive Interview with PJAK’s Agiri Rojhilat, Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, October 23, 2009, <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=35638&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=412&no_cache=1&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[36] Zambelis, “Iran’s Challenges from Within: An Overview of Ethno-Sectarian Unrest.”

[37] Mahan Abedin and Kaveh Farrokh, “British Arabism and the Bombings in Iran,” Asia Times Online (China/Thailand), November 3, 2005, <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/GK03Ak02.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[38] Zambelis, “Iran’s Challenges from Within: An Overview of Ethno-Sectarian Unrest.”

[39] Hussein D. Hassan, “Iran: Ethnic and Religious Minorities,” Congressional Research Service (CRS), November 25, 2008, <http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL34021.pdf > (accessed February 1, 2013).

[40] “Iraqi Militants Encourage People of Khuzestan to Launch Jihad Against Iran,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor; Amnesty International, “Iran: New Government Fails to Address Dire Human Rights Situation,” February 2006, <http://web.archive.org/web/20080412005751/http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/010/2006/en/dom-MDE130102006en.pdf&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Hamed Aleaziz and Robin Mills, “Cycle of Repression and Protest: Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan,” PBS, July 16, 2012, <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2012/07/comment-cycle-of-repression-and-protest-iranian-arabs-in-khuzestan.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[41] Zambelis, “Iran’s Challenges from Within: An Overview of Ethno-Sectarian Unrest.”

[42] U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011,” July 2012, (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2012) <http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/195768.pdf&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[43] “Iran: Enemies of the Clergy,” Time, July 20, 1981, <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,954849,00.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[44] U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011”; “Moqtada Sadr Reiterates Iraqis’ Demand for Expulsion of MKO Terrorists,” Fars News Agency (Iran), September 19, 2011, <http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9006280031&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[45] “Fact Box: Terrorist Attacks in Iran,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) (Czech Republic), June 14, 2005, <http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1059255.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011.”

[46] Erica Chenoweth, “Instability and Opportunity: The Origins of Terrorism in Weak and Failed States,” in James J.F. Forest, ed., The Making of a Terrorist (Westport: Praeger, 2005).

[47] Matthew H. Wahlert, “The Failed State,” in James J.F. Forest, ed., Countering Terrorism and Insurgency in the 21st Century (Westport: Praeger, 2007); Stewart Patrick, “Failed States: The Brutal Truth,” Foreign Policy, July/August 2011), <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/06/20/the_brutal_truth?page=0,1&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[48] Shahdad Naghshpour, Joseph J. St. Marie, and Samuel S. Stanton, Jr., “The Shadow Economy and Terrorist Infrastructure” in James J.F. Forest, ed., Countering Terrorism and Insurgency in the 21st Century (Westport: Praeger, 2007).

[49] Zambelis, “Balochi Nationalists Intensify Violent Rebellion in Iran”; Jenny Cuffe, “Iraq’s Other Kurdish Rebel Group,” BBC, December 19, 2007, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7148405.stm&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Hassan, “Iran: Ethnic and Religious Minorities.”

[50] Tharoor, “Iran’s Arrest of an Extremist Foe: Did Pakistan Help?”

[51] Will D. Swearingen, “Geopolitical Origins of the Iran-Iraq War,” Geographical Review 78 (4) (October 1988): 405-416.

[52] U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011.”

[53] Homy Lafayette, “Update: Jundallah Claims Responsibility for Suicide Bombing; 33 Dead,” PBS, December 15, 2010, <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/12/suicide-bombers-kills-at-least-30-in-chabahar.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[54] Chris Zambelis, “’Heeding the Call for Jihad’: The Sudden Resurgence of Baloch Nationalist Militancy in Iran,” Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, November 15, 2012, <http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=40119&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “Majlis will Pursue Chabahar Terrorist Attack: Iranian MP,” Press TV (Iran), October 21, 2012, <http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/10/20/267833/majlis-to-pursue-chabahar-attack/&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[55] “Iran to Finish Off Kurd Rebels in ‘Days’: Commander, Agence France-Press (AFP), September 19, 2011, <http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iJZ8JTE_ZoEnCglWcMy7jEX2v-Eg?docId=CNG.793f5410a59f79f4a62496672fab41ab.601&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “PJAK Surrenders, Accepts Iran Terms,” Press TV (Iran), September 30, 2011, <http://www.presstv.ir/detail/201925.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[56] “PJAK Surrenders to Iran,” Fars News Agency (Iran), September 29, 2011, <http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9007040547&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “PJAK Kills a Member of Iran Basij Force,” Press TV (Iran), December 28, 2011, <http://www.presstv.ir/detail/218089.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “PJAK Offers ‘Ceasefire’ to Iran,” Press TV (Iran), September 5, 2011,” <http://presstv.com/detail/197496.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “Iran Says it Killed PJAK Commander,” United Press International (UPI), September 7, 2011, <http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/09/07/Iran-says-it-killed-PJAK-commander/UPI-53271315405933/&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[57] “Assessment for Kurds in Iran,” Minorities at Risk (MAR) Project, University of Maryland, <http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/mar/assessment.asp?groupId=63007&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[58] Michael Slackman, “At Home, Tehran Deals with a Restive Arab Minority,” The New York Times, September 22, 2006, <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/22/world/africa/22iht-tehran.2903826.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[59] U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011.”

[60] Shane, “Iranian Dissidents Convince U.S. to Drop Terror Label”; Josh Rogin, “Are the MEK’s U.S. Friends its Worst Enemies?” Foreign Policy, March 8, 2012, <http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/08/are_the_mek_s_us_friends_its_worst_enemies&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[61] Alex Kroeger, “EU Unfreezes Iran Group’s Funds,” BBC, December 12, 2006, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6172481.stm&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

[62] Omid Memarian, “The Mujahedeen-e Khalq Controversy,” PBS, February 23, 2011, <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/02/the-mujahedeen-e-khalq-controversy.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); “The Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK),” PBS, <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/themes/mek.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013); Jeremiah Goulka, Lydia Hansell, Elizabeth Wilke, and Judith Larson, “The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum,” RAND Corporation, 2009, <http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG871.html&gt; (accessed February 1, 2013).

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