Iran vs. North Korea State-Sponsored Terrorism

Annotated Bibliography

Bowden, M. (2006). Guests of the ayatollah: The first battle in America’s war with militant Islam. Grove Press.

The Iranian hostage crisis is described as a diplomatic conflict that pitched the US and Iran against each other. About 52 American diplomats were held hostage for more than 444 days. They were captured after students stormed the American embassy in Tehran to protest the deposed shah being given asylum in the United States to receive medical treatment. It is regarded as the longest hostage standoff in the history of the United States and worldwide. The crisis reached its climax when American agents failed to rescue the hostages. However, after the invasion of Iran by Iraq, Tehran became more receptive to solving the stalemate, and the hostages were released.

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CNN. (2016). Beirut Marine barracks bombing fast facts. Retrieved from

In this article, CNN (2016) states that more than 220 marines, including 21 service personnel, perished in a bombing attack on a marine compound based in Beirut, Lebanon. The housing complex catered for more than 300 service members, as well as a multinational task force comprised of French, Italian, and British soldiers involved in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. This terrorist attack was described as one of the worst atrocities against the US Marines since Iwo Jima during 1945. The attackers were traced back to a terrorist organization referred to as Hezbollah, a political and militant organization operating in Lebanon that benefited significantly from state-sponsored terrorism from the government of Iran and, to some extent, Syria.

Farber, D. R. (2005). Taken hostage: The Iran hostage crisis and America’s first encounter with radical Islam. Princeton University Press.

In 1979, about 500 students loyal to the revolutionary regime in Iran seized control of the American embassy and kidnapped 90 people. Despite demanding the extradition of the deposed shah back to Iran, the kidnapping of American diplomats was more than what was perceived at the time. It was meant as a statement to the US to stop interfering with the internal affairs of Iran. The hostage crisis was also used to enhance the intra- and international profile of the revolutionary regime across the world. The crisis significantly affected the reelection campaigns of President Jimmy Carter. However, they were released just before the inaugural address was delivered by President Reagan.

French, P. (2007). North Korea: The paranoid peninsula: A modern history. Zed Books.

In January 1988, the suspect arrested in connection with the bombing of a Korean airline claimed to be an agent sent by the North Korean government to conduct a terrorist attack on South Korea. She claimed that they placed a radio on the plane with about 350 grams of C-4 explosives. As she made the statement, she was remorseful and asked all the families affected by her actions to forgive her. However, the most controversial statement she made was that the bombing had been personally ordered by Kim Jong-il, who was the son of the president of North Korea.

Iran hostage crisis. (2016). Columbia electronic encyclopedia, 6th edition, 1.

The events that preceded the Iran hostage crisis laid the foundation for what would become a protracted diplomatic tussle between the US and the state of Iran. The coup against Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi led to his exile in the US, which raised tensions in Iran, leading to the seizure of the American embassy by about 500 students. From a total of 90 people who were present at the embassy, most of them were released except 52 American citizens. In response to the kidnapping, President Carter instituted economic sanctions to force the Iranian authorities to take action. He also began diplomatic talks geared at securing the release of American hostages, but they were not successful. In April 1980, the US made a rescue attempt that failed due to damage to three helicopters used in operation. The death of the shah and the Iraqi invasion in 1980 forced Tehran to release the hostages.

Manyin, M. E., Chanlett-Avery, E., Rennack, D. E., Rinehart, I. E., & Rollins, J. W. (2015). North Korea: Back on the state sponsors of terrorism lists? Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from

From 1998 to 2008, the United States government had designated the state of North Korea as one that engaged in state sponsorship of terrorism. The Reagan administration took these steps after North Korea was allegedly implicated in the downing of a Korean airliner where more than 103 souls were lost. The North Korean regime was also implicated in the attempted assassination of the South Korean president during a diplomatic trip to Burma, currently referred to as Myanmar, which resulted in the killing of more than 43 state officials and security personnel. In 2008, North Korea was removed from the state terrorism sponsorship list, but there have been calls to re-list North Korea after its involvement in the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel.

McEachern, J. (2011). North Korea and Iran: Drawing comparative lessons. US-Korea Institute at SIAS Working Paper Series. Retrieved from

In this article, McEachern (2011) argues that both Iran and North Korea are governed by administrations with very little regard for democracy and have numerous challenges in adhering to international human rights standards. However, deeper scrutiny of both the North Korean and Iranian administrations reveals diverse ruling ideologies, human rights challenges, and administration functions, which significantly influence their engagement in state-sponsored terrorism. Iran is founded on a Shi’i Islamic ideology led by virtuous scholars who justify using authority and force to fight nations perceived to oppress Muslims or Islam. On the other hand, North Korea’s administration lacks theological or theoretical ideological anchoring but instead follows the Juche principle that encourages the notion of the military first. The latter factor explains the nature of military interventions that characterize North Korean state-sponsored terrorism.

Schaeffer, C. M. (2010). State sponsorship of terrorism: A comparison of Cuba’s and Iran’s use of terrorism to export ideological revolutions (Doctoral dissertation, George Mason University).

In this work, Schaefer (2002) argues that conventional warfare has significantly been transformed since the culmination of the Vietnam War. The traditional modes of warfare encompassed universal rules of engagement and defined battle lines. However, in the contemporary era, the US has been forced to engage in unconventional warfare that led to the establishment of the Overseas Contingency Operation, formerly referred to as the Global War on Terror. Among the states that have been previously listed as state sponsors of terrorism include Iraq, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. The policymakers use the list in the department of state to device policies and measures such as sanctions and embargos against nations that finance and albeit global terrorism activities to deter them from the practice.

Selth, A. (2004). Burma’s North Korean gambit: A challenge to regional security? (No. 154). Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University.

In this source, the author outlines that after an extensive investigation into the causes that led to the crashing or exploding of the Korean air flight, the North Korean administration was implicated in placing an improvised explosive device onboard. The explosion killed all 115 passengers on board the plane. A suspect arrested in connection with the bombing stated that she and her accomplices who committed suicide were instructed to blow the plane so that participating athletes in the soul Olympics would be afraid of going to South Korea for the games. It was also meant to disrupt the government of South Korea so that the north could impose itself on its sister nation.

U.S. Department of State. (2002). Overview of state-sponsored terrorism. Retrieved from

Iran is arguably among the most active state sponsors of terrorism since the year 2000. The IRGC and MOIS are actively involved in facilitating and planning various terrorist activities, such as the support offered to the intifadah against Israel. The Iranian government has also been mentioned in the September 11 attacks on the US and played a key role in the Iranian hostage crisis, where more than 52 Americans were taken hostage by university students in Tehran. On the other hand, for a long period, Pyongyang has offered a safe haven to the remnants of the Japanese faction of the Communist League-Red Army, which participated in the hijacking of a Japanese airliner heading to North Korea during the 1970s. The country is also responsible for the assassination attempt of the South Korean president while on a state visit to Burma.

U.S. Department of State. (2015). Chapter 3: State sponsors of terrorism overview. Retrieved from

According to the U.S. Department of State (2015), Iran was designated among the nations that engage in state-sponsored terrorism since 1984 because of its continued support for militant and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, as well as other groups in Iraq and the Middle East. In 2015, Iran enhanced its material and financial support to Iraqi Shia militant groups and Hezbollah. Through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the nation has been able to carry out its foreign policy objectives and conceal intelligence operations that resulted in instability in the Middle East. Iran provides arms and financial support to Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian militant groups, and some African organizations.

Zasloff, J. J. (1983). Materials on massacre of Korean officials in Rangoon. Korea and World Affairs, 735-64.

In 1983, the North Korean administration attempted to decapitate the government of South Korea. During an official diplomatic trip to Burma, terrorists from North Korea attacked the venue where President Chun Doo-Hwan was attending an official function. He was lucky to escape the assassination, but 21 members of his government were killed in an explosion. Among the dead were the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other cabinet members. The president escaped because his motorcade was delayed in traffic, which meant he arrived late. After an investigation, it was revealed that North Korea was responsible for the assassination attempt, which continued to fuel the diplomatic hostilities between the north and the south.