Is Iran the biggest state sponsor of terrorism?

By Kent R. Kroeger (May 16, 2019)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured) after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Data and Methods

The easy answer to Morris’ question is that few U.S. journalists and political elites challenge the ‘Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism’ narrative. If they did, they might start by digging into the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD), an open-source database on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2017.

The Results

Since 1994, three percent of terror incidents have been associated with major Shia-aligned terror groups (see terror group list in Appendix), compared to 27 percent for major Sunni-aligned terror groups (see Figure 1). The Taliban as been linked to only 15 percent of worldwide terror incidents. The vast majority of the remaining terror incidents are linked to minor Sunni-aligned jihadist groups.

Analysis of GTD by Kent R. Kroeger (NuQum.com)
Analysis of GTD by Kent R. Kroeger (NuQum.com)
Analysis of GTD by Kent R. Kroeger (NuQum.com)
Analysis of GTD by Kent R. Kroeger (NuQum.com)
Data source: The Univ. of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD); Analysis of GTD by Kent R. Kroeger (NuQum.com)

Final Thoughts

Iran is not by any stretch of the imagination the largest state-sponsor of terrorism, regardless of how one wants to define and divide up terrorist activities over the past 25 years.

APPENDIX: List of Major Terror Groups

Major Shia-aligned Terror Groups:

I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at: kroeger98@yahoo.com)

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