Counter-Terrorism: Sunni Terrorists Suck Up To Iran


July 26, 2012: Another Palestinian terrorist group, the Islamic Jihad Movement (IJM), has left its long-time sanctuary in Syria and moved its headquarters to Iran. Although a Sunni Arab organization formed in 1979, from more radical members of the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood, IJM had to flee to Israeli controlled Gaza in 1981, after Islamic radicals assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (for making peace with Israel).

In 1987, IJM was forced out of Gaza by Israeli counter-terror efforts and fled to Lebanon. At that point Lebanon was in the midst of a civil war (which ended in 1990). IJM found itself more welcome by the local Hezbollah organization. This was a south Lebanon Shia militia that was backed by Shia Iran. At that point IJM ditched its anti-Shia line (common with Sunni Islamic radicals who believe Shia are heretics who must be killed) and concentrated on killing Israelis. Iran urged IJM to move to Syria in 1989, where it was safer and Iran could keep a closer eye on them.

IJM currently has fewer than a hundred full time members. But Iranian cash and technical assistance has enabled the group to carry out about one successful terror attack a year since its founding. The group now operates out of the West Bank and Gaza and had many supporters among Palestinians in the West. IJM controls several charitable organizations that funnel some of the money they collect into supporting mosques, schools, and clinics. This maintains a positive image for IJM among many Palestinians. It also provides a recruiting network for suicide bombers (the favorite IJM weapon). IJM is considered more "pure" and less willing to compromise on its goal of destroying Israel and is thus popular with the most hard-core Islamic terrorists. Because of that, IJM is denying that it is moving its headquarters to Iran. The denial is to deal with the fact that, increasingly, Shia Iran is seen as at war with the Arab states (which are largely Sunni, as are most Palestinians). Despite that pressure, more and more Sunni terrorists are seeking sanctuary and support from Iran, which has become something of a last resort.




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