Iran Against the U.S. Easier in the Middle East

Iran Against the U.S.

Iran Will Find Retaliating Against the U.S. Easier in the Middle East

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Relatives of the five Israeli victims of a suicide blast that targeted a bus of tourists in Bulgaria mourn in Sofia on Aug. 28, 2012. (DIMITAR DILKOFF)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Iran and its proxies have a long history of plotting attacks against the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iranian dissidents around the world.
  • Despite the long list of attempts in the post-9/11 era, only one attack has resulted in fatalities.
  • Iran will continue to plan attacks, and it or its proxies may occasionally succeed — especially against soft targets.

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Editor’s Note: ­This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at  a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard.

Iran has vowed to seek revenge against the United States for the Jan. 3 drone strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the prominent commander of the Quds Force, a unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In response, national and local law enforcement agencies around the world have boosted security. Private companies and organizations have also adjusted their operations to account for the greater threat, most notably by pulling their U.S. personnel out of Iraq, especially after the U.S. Embassy insisted that citizens leave the country. Retaliation from Iran or one of its proxies is extremely likely, but where and how effective the attack(s) might be is less clear. A look at the recent history of Iranian actions indicates that despite its global networks and ambitions, it is a far more formidable threat in the more permissive environment of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. The physical and cyber actions of Iran during 2019 show that its ability to strike against regional rivals, such as Saudi Arabia, or global rivals, such as the United States, is substantial in the Persian Gulf region.

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Hostile Environments

Outside the region, Iran is still a threat, as demonstrated by its repeated attempts to attack its rivals in Europe, East Africa, Eastern Europe and even Southeast Asia. Iran’s intelligence assets and its operatives with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are constantly at work conducting surveillance on targets around the globe — especially in places not typically associated with the Iranian threat — in preparation for future attacks. But they have struggled with operations in hostile environments, showing that they need to improve their clandestine terrorist tradecraft. Because of these difficulties, their track record outside the Middle East in the 21st century isn’t nearly as impressive as their record within the region. Nonetheless, they are trying, and occasionally landing blows successfully, especially against soft targets in places where their attack cycle activities aren’t being watched for and detected.

For companies and other organizations associated with the United States and concerned about their vulnerability to retaliation abroad, the following list provides examples of Iranian and Hezbollah activity in recent years. It is by no means comprehensive, but it shows the kinds of targets its operatives are pursuing and where they’ve been caught. It also illustrates how Iranian attacks are preventable and how those who are looking for the threat are more likely to spot it and spare themselves.

Source: Stratfor | Worldview

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