Still, until early 1993, virtually no terrorist operations took place on U.S. soil. However, this phenomenon should not be considered an indication that there is no terrorism in the U.S. On the contrary, the virtual safety enjoyed by America during the 1980's should be attributed primarily to the restraint exercised and imposed by the then-dominant states, primarily the U.S.S.R. and Cuba. Both countries were motivated by higher priorities, namely, preparations for World War III (see below) as well as the benefits and profits derived from narco-terrorism.
With diverse covert operations going on, the KGB, the GRU(Soviet Military Intelligence), and the DGI (Cuban Intelligence) were afraid of the negative ramifications that tightened security in the aftermath of a terrorist strike might have on their ability to operate in the U.S. Therefore they would not let the terrorists they controlled operate in America.
Thus, although leftist Arab terrorists have been present in the U.S., most elements have been passive and, with few exceptions in the early 1970's, did not commit acts of terrorism.
However, in the 1980's, Islamist international terrorism,
controlled by Iran, Syria, and Libya, assumed prominence. The
masters of Islamist terrorism are more audacious and less constrained
by global considerations. For them, any strike, even symbolic, at
the "Great Satan" is a major achievement. With the collapse of the
USSR and Cuban inaction, the restraints they had imposed are no
longer effective. Consequently, the US is no longer immune to these
Therefore, the situation has changed because Islamist terrorists and the states controlling them consider the U.S. to be their ultimate enemy. Moreover, the sponsoring states are willing to withstand the possible retribution terrorist strikes may bring. Little wonder that the HizbaAllah has always emphasized that the struggle against the U.S. must take precedence over any other objective of the Islamic world: "We are moving in the direction of fighting the roots of vice and the first root of vice is America. All the endeavors to drag us into marginal action will be futile when compared with the confrontation against the United States."
The states controlling the Islamist terrorist network, primarily Syria and Iran, are commited to extending thir struggle into the U.S. and are willing to withstand the consequences. Therefore, in the early 1980's they began a lengthy, prudent, and professional process of consolidating a stable and redundant infrastructure in America based on a myriad of dormant networks and using established methods for the insertion of experts and trigger-men. This approach is derived from, and essentially similar to, the successful terrorist build-up in Western Europe in the 1980's and incorporates many of the lessons learned from the rich operational experience accumulated there.
Two factors dominate the assessment of the chance of effective terrorist operations inside the United States:
The conduct of sophisticated, effective and lethal terrorist operations depends on the availability of both skilled operatives and a comprehensive support infrastructure. As a rule, the support system is established in the target-country several years in advance. It collects intelligence, sets up a logistical support network and prepares the conditions for carrying out a terrorist attack. The support network then waits in a dormant state for activation by the leadership, that is, the controlling state. Then the highly skilled operatives arrive on the scene only a short time prior to the specific attacks. They activate the local support network and live off them for the duration of the terrorist operation. The presence of a support system in place is the key to the terrorist capability to strike inside the U.S.
By the early 1980s, there was already a solid, veteran and proven Shi'ite terrorist network in the U.S. based on the Tashayu Sorkh (Red Shi'ism) organization founded in San Jose, California, in 1965 by Mustafa Chamran Savehi. PP. 293-295
Virtually the entire radical and terrorist supporting apparatus in the U.S. was unified toward facilitating major terrorist operations and withstanding the reaction of the law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of such attacks. P. 297
It is noteworthy that North Korean intelligence operatives and Latin American terrorists receive advanced and specialized training for Western Hemisphere clandestine operations in the Melli University in Iran. The training courses of North Korean SPETSNAZ (special forces) include three years of English studies. Moreover, the DPRK freighters used in these operations were of the same type used for the clandestine insertion of North Korean SPETSNAZ into hostile countries and for the support of international terrorist activities. One such freighter, the Tong Gon Ae Guk-Ho, was used to insert into the Rangoon, Burma area the detachment that attempted to assassinate the entire South Korean government on October 9, 1983, killing 17 key officials and wounding several others, including the president. P. 302
In late 1985 and early 1986, Qaddafi completed the organization of suicide squads for terrorist strikes inside the U.S. Part of the dynamic that made this possible was the maturation of the first generation of Libyans who had grown up completely under Qaddafi's rule...According to Libyan officials, the list of applicants for "matyrdom" was far longer than anything the training system could accommodate. P. 304
Meanwhile, the involvement of Syria, Iran and their clients in the drug trade had also turned into a primary instrument for bringing international terrorism to the U.S. itself. While the Syrians were interested in the immense financial gains in the drug trade, Iran and the HizbAllah also had ideological motives and fatwas were used accordingly by the Shi'ite leadership. "We are making these drugs for the Devil; the Devil is America, Jews, et al. We cannot kill them with guns so we kill them with drugs," the HizbAllah explained.
The most important development in the expansion of terrorism into the U.S. was the "crack-for-terrorist" deal reached between Damascus and the Columbian drug cartel. Syria had long been eager to meet the growing need in Western Europe for cocaine. However, it proved virtually impossible to grow coca plants in Lebanon. Therefore, there emerged a need to import coca "base" and the appropriate know-how to produce "American style" crack. P. 317
Major progress toward an arrangement was made in a series of meetings in Larnaca between a senior family member of the Pablo Escobar Colombian Medellin drug cartel and a very senior member of the Keyrouz family, a Lebanese clan very close to the Syrian intelligence and military leadership, long associated with the Syrian drug trade. In 1989, Escobar met Rais' Assad (Rifa't Assad's son) and senior Syrian military and intelligence officials in Larnaca to discuss the expansion of their cooperation.As a direct result of Escobar's visit to Larnaca, a "factory" for crack was set up in the Biqaa in January 1990 using raw material provided from Columbia (and elsewhere in Latin America), initially to satisfy the growing demand in Western Europe and the Far East. Ultimately, to took a good part of the drug infrastructure away from the reach of U.S. forces..The Medellin Cartel was quick to put into action what it learned from the Syrians. On November 27, 1989, An Avianca Boeing 72! 7 exploded in mid-air five minutes after taking off from the Bogota, Columbia airport, killing 101 passengers and crew members. Investigation disclosed that a Middle-Eastern style bomb made of SEMTEX was planted by the Medellin Cartel, and that the detonator was similar to the one used to blow up Pan-Am flight 103. PP 315-317
Meanwhile, the governments of Iran and Syria are actively engaged in economic warfare against the U.S. through the production and dissemination of high quality counterfeit dollar bills, primarily $100 bills. The objectives of this campaign are twofold: (1) to alleviate the dire financial shortages of both countries; and (2) to destabilize the U.S. economy. The actual smuggling of the counterfeit bills and their distribution in the U.S. (and elsewhere) are carried out by the terrorist networks already in place and controlled by both states...The high quality $100 bank notes are used directly against the U.S. banking system. These bills are printed in the Iranian official mint in Tehran, using equipment and know-how purchased from the U.S. during the days of the Shah. Israeli officials have affirmed, through their own intelligence, that these dollars are being printed on "high-tech, state-owned presses with paper acquired only by governments." The plates used for t! he $100 bills are virtually perfect. They are used for all the counterfeits. The ink is almost always of extremely high quality. The specialized ink is mixed in the laboratories of the national mint in Tehran by chemists who had studied in the U.S. PP. 319-320
Indeed, by the mid-1980s, the Iranian-sponsored Islamist network in the U.S. and Canada had markedly expanded and become better organized. The Islamist infrastructure already included all the components of a mature terrorist support system. These included safe houses in major cities, weapons, ammunition, money, systems to provide medical and legal aid, false identity papers and intelligence for the operative. The network was also large in scale and spanned the United States..More than 100 well-trained Shi'ite terrorists were already deployed in the U.S. in late 1985. Virtually all of them entered the U.S. via Mexico. They were concealed and shielded primarily within the population of students from Muslim countries which, in the mid-1980s, was estimated to be some 60,000 strong. Tehran also made an effort to improve the terrorist skills of some of the sleeper networks. Several Iranian "students" in the U.S., all sustained by scholarships from Tehran, were ordered to return to Iran on a periodic basis in order to receive military training.
One of the most important lessons derived from the clandestine and terrorist activities in Western Europe was the recognition of the crucial importance of a long term presence and a locally-based support infrastructure. Tehran concluded that it was virtually impossible to sustain, let alone run, effective terrorist and intelligence networks without a solid support infrastructure on-site.Therefore, the Islamist terrorist masters decided, and not without reason, that their urgent priority should be the establishment of a solid and redundant support infrastructure. The emphasis should be on the organization and consolidation of a comprehensive web of support networks that woul be able to withstand any police action after major strikes. The experts in Tehran were convinced that such a support system can be safe and secure only if it rises form within a radicalized and activist Islamic community. Therefore, Iran and its allies embarked on a twin-track program to futher improve their terrorist capabilities in the U.S. and Canada:
The Iranian analysis of the dynamics of Muslim communities in the West, based on their experience in Western Europe, is that once a community embarks on a path of greater awareness and communal activism, activities that by themselves are innocent and legitimate, a minority within this community is propelled even further to become an activist Islamist community. Subsequently, with proper agitation and organization by the Iranian-controlled mullahs and ulama, some of these activist Islamists can be convinced, recruited and trained to either assist Islamist terrorists as part of the support system or even to commit acts of terrorism themselves. PP. 331-332
Financial support for organizations and individuals is channeled through various Islamic charities, some of which, like the Mostazafan Foundation in New York, acknowledge their relationship with both the Iranian Government and local Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada.
All this time, during the late 1980s, Tehran continued to consolidate and expand its terrorist infrastructure in the U.S. As a result, in early 1989, the Iranian network in the U.S. was the most solid and dangerous of all local terrorist networks. Tehran was able to establish in the U.S. the combination of expert terrorists and Islamist zealots that had proved to be so lethal in Western Europe.
A comprehensive support infrastructure manned by dedicated individuals had already been functioning for several years. Small networks of Iranian operatives and terrorists, with their own stockpiles of weapons and explosives, were already deployed in the U.S., hidden mainly within the 30,000-strong Iranian emigre community, more than half of them "sympathetic" to the cause of Khomeini.
Although the membership in the Muslim Student's Association was in the thousands, only less than 1,000 of them were active militants that Tehran could really rely on to conduct or support terrorism. However, because of their education and positions, these dedicated few constituted an impressive talent pool for such operations. In addition, several tens of expert IRGC operatives and terrorists were already clandestinely deployed inside the U.S. ever ready to strike if ordered to. A few hundred militant Iranian students in the U.S., funded by Iranian scholarships, were expected to actively assist them or directly participate in such terrorist organizations. Organized support for the entire Iranian network was conducted via the Islamic Society of North America and the Mostazafan Foundation. For routine activities, The Islamic Society was the primary instrument of communication with Tehran, while the Mostazafan Foundation was the main channel for providing the funds. PP. 337-338