Theoretically, sovereign states are not in themselves terrorist states, but this may be debatable. Many argue that those states possessing nuclear weapons use those weapons as threats of a devastation that even exceeds our capacity to imagine it, threats that terrify any thinking soul on the face of the earth.
The same is true of those states that posses and maintain gargantuan armies and navies with the capacity to destroy entire countries without nuclear bombs. These states may be said to operate under state sponsored terrorism in reference to their weaker neighbors.
State sponsored terrorism, however, has a more common definition, namely, a state that sponsors terrorist armies, groups or cadres that are not officially an arm of the state doing the sponsoring.
These states allow “terrorist” groups to set up camps and training facilities on their territory, allow them to train in terroristic tactics such as covert operations to disseminate lethal germs, to manufacture arms such as rockets to attack other countries or other communities which the sponsoring state is not formally at war.
Some states providing state sponsored terrorism do not only render a blind eye to these activities going on upon their own territory, but may also provide logistical support to terrorist organizations. This includes rations, tents, water, transportation, and even avenues for the sexual needs of the training terrorists.
In addition to logistical aid, state sponsored terrorism is complemented with crucial intelligence, intelligence that derives not only from on-the-ground operatives, but spy satellite and the interception of communications of the terrorist enemies.
In some cases, states will secretly lend the entire military operations planning group of the state to devise, plan, locate, transport, and setup an operation against the terrorists’ enemy, virtually conducting war against the terrorists’ enemy with the terrorists as proxy. This is a common accusation by those states that have been hit by terrorism, as in the case of Lebanon versus Syria in recent years.
States using other groups, even terrorist groups, to war against another nation without overtly declaring war or ostensibly being on the fighting lines is not a new tactic. After World War II, the USSR and the United States and its western allies were constantly engaged in proxy wars everywhere on the globe, in Africa, in Europe, in Latin America.
State sponsored terrorism is precisely war by proxy. Even if the terrorist group and the state sponsoring them do not have the same goals in common, the agreement between the two that after the war they will be on good terms is sufficient to form the alliance.
The U.S. is no exception. In the 1950s and 60s the U.S. actively engaged in supporting “revolutionary” groups in Latin America. The Bay of Pigs invasion is a prime example of state sponsored terrorism. Cuba woke one morning to find an invading army, one that was not of any recognized sovereign state, intent on over-throwing the entire government.
They were trained and equipped by the United States, launched their campaign against Cuba from U.S. shores, and were given a modicum of U.S. military support. The Cubans who woke to the gunfire, woke in terror. Even after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba remains in terror of similar attacks of exiled Cubans amassing and training on U.S. soil.
Now, in the Mid East we hear of such states as Iran and Syria engaged in state sponsored terrorism against their arch enemy, Israel. We are outraged, and yet we must not be hypocritical. No, terrorism should not be sponsored anywhere, yet let us not forget that we too have embraced this serpent for our own best interests.
Perhaps what we need to do is evolve beyond war, beyond the killing of combatants an non-combatants alike, and find some other means of resolving the hatred and fear that grips all of us. Perhaps we should devote ourselves to peace, all states. It’s nice, at least, to hope and dream.