Is the following infographic's comparison of Iran and the USA accurate?

Countries attacked by bombing, sabotage or attempted government overthrow since World War Two:

Countries attacked by bombing, sabotage or attempted government overthrow since World War Two image

I'm not skeptical of the claim that the USA has attacked a lot of countries, but I am skeptical of the claim that, based on the criteria used for including countries on the "USA" list, that no countries would be included in the "Iran" list.

Text in the infographic (largely copied from this letter to the editor):

Countries attacked by bombing, sabotage, or attempted government overthrow since World War Two

Iran (none)

USA (emphasis added by original image)

China 1945-46, Syria 1949, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Tibet 1955-70s, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960-65, Iraq 1960-63, Dominican Republic 1961, Vietnam 1961-73, Brazil 1964, Belgian Congo 1964, Guatemala 1964, Laos 1964-73, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Greece 1967, Guatemala 1967-69, Cambodia 1969-70, Chile 1970-73, Argentina 1976, Turkey 1980, Poland 1980-81, El Salvador 1981-92, Nicaragua 1981-1990, Cambodia 1980-95, Angola 1980, Lebanon 1982-84, Grenada 1983-84, Philippines 1986, Libya 1986, Iran 1987-88, Libya 1989, Panama 1989-90, Iraq 1991, Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Iraq 1992-1996, Bosnia 1995, Iran 1998, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2002-2003, Somalia 2006-2007, Iran 2005-present, Libya 2011.

[Occupy London logo]

  • 15
    The list looks as though it could be artificially narrow to avoid implicating Iran. "Bombing, sabotage, or attempted overthrow"? So a ground offensive that doesn't include bombers wouldn't count, eh? Supplying weapons (including bombers) to a third party wouldn't count. Not that I have any knowledge of Iran doing these things, but it just sounds fishy...
    – Flimzy
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 6:38
  • 5
    It looks like the american list includes everywhere the US was involved even when defending civilians against foreign attack or supporting allies against foreign aggression or other human rights violations. And having nothing on the Iranian list is suspicious given their declared intent to destroy israel.
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 15:44
  • 6
    @Christian I don't think it can count as conservative if it includes, for example, Bosnia, Somalia and Kuwait where the USA was not fighting the local government but attempting some non-unilateral peacekeeping-like activity or supporting a government against an invader. On the criteria used to compile the list, it also ought to include France 1944-45, Germany 1942-45, Italy 1942-45, Belgium 1944-45, The Netherlands 1944-45, Japan 1941-45, loads of island in the pacific 1941-45...
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 17:27
  • 4
    @Christian my point wasn't about the time period but the criteria used for the list. Including WWII just exposes the lack of discrimination in the list since, on the apparent criteria of the article, we would have to include actions such as the liberation of france from the Nazis as hostile acts by the USA.
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 18:39
  • 4
    Poland 1980-81? Srsly, financial help for the Solidarity was "attempt to overthrow government"?! Especially given that by 1981 there was no government, but a military coup
    – vartec
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


This answer predated the Yemeni Civil war, so let's prepend the fact that for several years now, Iran-backed Houthis rebels not only waged the civil war in Yemen, but also attacked Saudi Arabia (including by missiles supplied by Iran specifically for the purpose).

List of direct (not by proxy) Iranian assassinations on non-Iranian sovereign soil [2]:

  • 1983 bombing of French paratroopers' barracks

  • 1985 - France - General Gholam Ali Oveissi

  • 1987 - UK - Amir Parviz, Ali Tavakoli, and Nader Tavakoli

  • 1989 - Austria - Dr. Abdolrahman Ghassemlou, Abdollah Ghaeri-Azar, and Fazil Rassoul

  • 1990 - Switzerland - Kazem Radjavi

  • 1992 - Germany - Sadegh Sharafkandi

  • 2011 - USA+Saudi Arabia (Attempted assassination of Saudi ambassador to USA)

  • According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Iran has been tied to at least 162 extrajudicial killings around the world since 1979 (src)

List of countries that Hezbollah [1] attacked:

  • 1983 and on - Lebanon. Up to and including assassinating a Prime Minister.

  • 1983 - USA (Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon)

  • 1983 - Kuwait - U.S. Embassy Bombing

  • 1985 - Greece (Hijacking of Athens-originated TWA flight 847)

  • 1996 and many others - Saudi Arabia, including in-country (1996 Khobar tower bombing (src)) and diplomats' assassinations elsewhere.

  • Thailand (src, src)

  • 1992 and many other times - Turkey - murder of a security chief of Israeli Embassy. Collateral damage included 2 Turks dead, and 1 Turkish child injured. Several more attacks

  • 1992, 1994 - Argentina (29 killed, 140 injured in 1992 in bombing of Israeli Embassy, 85 killed and 300 injured in 1994 in bombing AMIA building in Buenos Aires)

  • 1995 and on - Firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel

  • 2012 - Azerbaijan - Plans to attack Israel embassy and Jewish civilian targets

  • 2012 - Georgia - Plans to attack Israel Embassy

  • 2012 - Bulgaria - Terrorist attack on Israeli tourists.

List of countries where Iran fomented revolution or government overthrow, including as part of unrest in Middle East in 2011-2012:

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated," ignoring a U.N. warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric ahead of the annual General Assembly session" (Reuters).

Iran openly makes plans to destroy Israel. There is even a clock in Tehran center, counting the days to its destruction. Add to this, the 2024 attack sending hundreds of drnoes and missiles towards Israel.

On the other hand, the USA list is somewhat inaccurate, to say the least:

  • Kuwait wasn't "attacked by USA". It was liberated from being occupied by Iraq!
  • Neither was Korea. US was part of UN forces commissioned to defend South Korea from aggression from North Korea
  • Neither was Somalia - it was a UN military operation where US acted under Resolution 794 to support humanitarian relief.


2 Hezbollah:

Its [Hezbollah] leaders were inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Wiki, Adam Shatz (April 29, 2004). "In Search of Hezbollah". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved August 14, 2006)

3: Dr. Matthew Levitt; Director, Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence; The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil"; Testimony before a joint hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management October 26, 2011. Link PDF

  • 15
    The claim is not about attacks on foreign soil. The US list doesn't include countries like Italy where the US kidnapped Italien citizens in the last decade in a way that Italian courts recognized as unlawful. If you would count all countries where the US did something unlawful the list would probably have most country on it.
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 17:05
  • 5
    @Christian - #1: there's a wee bit of difference between "unlawful" and "act of war" (like blowing up a bunch of people). Let's stick to the question at hand, shall we? #2: the answer very explicitly includes countries where "attempted government overthrow" happened.
    – user5341
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 18:35
  • 13
    @Christian - if you post a link, it helps if you don't mis-represent the crux of the article: "The United States bombed Iraqi-controlled oil installations along the Kuwaiti coastline in hopes of stemming a huge oil spill deliberately unleashed by Iraq nearly a week ago, the American military said today."
    – user5341
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 18:36
  • 5
    @DVK that is exactly the reason why i sometimes wish we could downvote comments.
    – Stefan
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 13:34
  • 6
    I am against fundamentalist leaders of Iran and a protester but most of your information because of lacking valid sources and exaggeration remain as some rumors or propaganda news against Iran. As a protester I have learned that this kind of information can damage whole a protest against a dictatorship regime! A bad defender is the worst enemy! Iran government has never supported Taliban.It's not true.And about Israel!Are you serious?Surely Ahmadinejad is notorious in giving such ridiculous speeches but it's more ridiculous from you that you've considered it as a successful killing attack! Commented May 8, 2013 at 8:26

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