ISIS & Iran – Spot the Differences

isis and iran

ISIS definitely took the world by surprise: here was a radical Islamic movement who made no apologies and didn’t cater to Western norms. The “spectacular” beheadings, the European jihadists, the fervent vision…all seemed so foreign to us.

But anyone who has been following the doings of ISIS’s Eastern neighbor and target shouldn’t have been too surprised.  Why? Because, although there are some major differences between ISIS and the regime in Tehran, there are quite a few similarities as well.


ISIS & Tehran – fighting for Islam on a global scale

Both ISIS & Tehran are driven by a vision of global Islamization and a strict adherence to Sha’ariah law.

ISIS’s version of Islam is Sunni and is focused on Iraq/Syria for now but their call is for a global uprising of Muslims all over the world and a return to a purer form of Islam from the days of the Prophet.

In Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei’s vision of the long-awaited global “Islamic Awakening”, the world would turn away from Western capitalism and “embrace” Islam in order to bring about a “century of Islam“. Tehran’s focus on Islam is evident in its name (The Islamic Republic of Iran) and in the power of its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which was established on the eve of the Islamic revolution in 1979 with the aim to “protect the country’s Islamic system“. Likewise, its vision of leading a global Islamic revolution with Tehran at its epicenter is exemplified by the elite Qods forces of the IRGC whose focus is in “extraterritorial operations” all over the world.

Bottom line – both hope for a global Islamic revolution but each hopes that it will lead it.


ISIS & Tehran – legitimizing the use of terror

Both ISIS & Tehran have no qualms in using terrorism in order to achieve their goals. This goes back to some of the most fundamental teaching of the Prophet who believed that terrorizing the enemy was a legitimate tool for the believers.

ISIS has perfected its version of terrorism to the world of social media by turning its acts of terror into spectacles that feed the curiosity of billions who, although disgusted by what they see, continue to look.

Iran’s version of terrorism is just as harsh but Tehran goes to great lengths to distance itself from the acts of terror themselves quite simply because supporting terror openly is not good for business with the West. This means that someone else usually does the dirty work for Tehran. Terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc… are supported financially, supplied militarily and trained by Iran.

Without Iran’s support, these organizations would simply dwindle away unless they found support from elsewhere. They are the ones responsible for some of the biggest massacres in Syria, bombarding Israeli cities from Gaza, acts of terrorism in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa and much more.

Bottom line – both freely use terror but Tehran prefers to use proxy terrorists in order to preserve a “clean” image.


ISIS & Tehran – abusing human rights

Both ISIS and Tehran believe that Shaa’riah law supersedes any form of human rights in the eyes of the West. This may be hard to swallow in the West but it sometimes is much harder to live through on the inside where people are persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and killed because of their gender, their religion, their sexual preferences, their beliefs etc…

The gruesome trail of blood following the ISIS gangs is its message to all those they haven’t reached yet: either accept wholly our vision of Islam or else…

The regime in Tehran has mixed feelings about displaying abuses of human rights. They might agree with ISIS’s manner of enforcing Islamic law but they understand full well that abusing human rights openly, like promoting terrorism, is not good for business. Human rights are being abused in Iran constantly: floggings, torture, imprisonment and executions are experienced by anyone who doesn’t toe the line – women who are sick of gender inequality, gays who want to stop hiding, people who want to eat on Ramadan, Christians and Baha’is who want to practice their faith, politicians and activists who want to change the system, journalists and bloggers who hope for freedom of speech etc…

But, and this is a big “but”, all this is usually done under a heavy blanket of secrecy and denials in order to minimize criticism by the West which could subsequently empower enough Iranians to try to revolt against the regime.

Bottom line – both abuse human rights but Tehran prefers to keep its abuses hidden as much as possible from public scrutiny.


Obviously, ISIS is not Tehran and Tehran isn’t ISIS. One is a Sunni stateless organization with a total disregard to the expectations of Western states and the other is a Shi’ite state trying to foster relationships with Western states. But they do have more in common than friends of Tehran in the West would like to admit. Something to think about in regards to the role of Iran in the fight against ISIS and threats to the West once ISIS is eradicated.


27 thoughts on “ISIS & Iran – Spot the Differences

  1. I’m anti iranian government but this is not true. It gives people bad image of iranians. I’m iranian too but we are far from isis.

    • Hi Sean,
      I know that ISIS is radically different from the regime in Iran but the similarities should be a warning sign for those who believe that Iran’s help in fighting ISIS is necessarily a good thing.
      But I will take your thoughts into consideration.

      • haha you can add the USA to that list as well and its still true!

        1.Legitimizing and supporting terror- nobodies has supported more terrorist organizations that the US throughout history
        2.Systematically abusing human rights-the US fails on multiple reasons here and ignores UN advice to improve
        3.Torture, amputations and executions-the only countries to have blacksites around the globe designed to torture people not to mention the history of executing innocent people islamic movement-well the US fails on 1 point but remove Islamic and its true

      • Hi Shining Light.
        There is too much cynicism and misinformation in your comments.
        It would be nice if you could procure some facts to back your statements.
        Legitimizing terror: which organizations? when? where? how much? how does this match up to Iran?
        Abusing human rights: which rights? when? where? how does this match up to Iran?
        Torture, amputations etc…: where, when? how does this match up to Iran?

      • I can reply on behalf of “Shinning Light”…

        Legitimizing and supporting terror: The USA largely supported dictatorial regimes, which usually uses terror to control the populace(such as in the Latin America during the cold war, or in many middle eastern countries), actually it’s two most important allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are closely linked to human rights abuse, mass murdering, amputations(mainly Saudi Arabia in this one), torture and executions. The USA also supported terrorists in the Afghanistan since 1979 and paved the way to Taliban take over the power, this was made in a partnership with Saudi Arabia(look who once again) and Pakistan(another US important ally).

        Systematically abusing human rights: Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and secret prisons held around the world, i need to cite also soldiers abusing locals?

        Torture, amputations and executions: When they support criminal regimes, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Sisi’s and Mubarak’s Egypt, military-led Pakistan and so on, they’re also partially responsible for their crimes. We also can always remember the report with thousands of pages from the US congress about torture by CIA as an ineffective method(in information acquiring), once again i can say Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, or remember what the FBI used to do in their “hunt” for communists and so on, the list is long.

        Global Islamic Movement: Well, the US fund the biggest sponsor for it, Saudi Arabia and their crazy wahabbi sect. Those wahabbi are spreading quickly around the world and are the main source of radicalism within Islam. But why Al-Saudi family rely so much on them? This 18th century sect is the responsible to conduct them to the absolute power in Saudi Arabia, and as Saudi Arabia is a valuable ally to the US, they keep ignoring that those guys(wahabbis) usually become terrorists(ISIS follow the same theorical line of wahabbism).

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  3. What about the Saudis? or are they the allies of the USA and they should not be mentioned? there is more similarities between them and IS that between IS and Iran. Iran is making big strides in development. I can see clearly that you echo the Israeli claims.

    I have a better idea let us spot the similarities between Israel and IS: They are both trying to form a state dedicated to a religion. They are both apocalyptic. They both are committing massacres against civilians. They both believe that God has chosen them for a special task (creating a Jewish stated and creating and Islamic state) and there is still a lot more.

  4. haha you can add the USA to that list as well and its still true!

    1.Legitimizing and supporting terror- nobodies has supported more terrorist organizations that the US throughout history
    2.Systematically abusing human rights-the US fails on multiple reasons here and ignores UN advice to improve
    3.Torture, amputations and executions-the only countries to have blacksites around the globe designed to torture people not to mention the history of executing innocent people islamic movement-well the US fails on 1 point but remove Islamic and its true

  5. 1.The US supports terror the world over. Remember the contra wars? remember Guatemala and sandino? throughout south America and the rest of the world. It supports the Saudi government which is a twin of both Iran and ISIS.
    2. Systematic abuse of human rights. We all saw the response the US gave during the occupy demonstrations, recent Ferguson protest just to name a few
    3. US drone assassinations that not only kills militants but kill and maim women and children.

    • 1) I agree that the US uses terrorism – does it measure to the size and influence of Iran’s use of terrorism? no.
      2) On human rights, Iran definitely takes the cake…are the police’s reactions to occupy demonstrations and fergusson come close to to the systematic abuses against women, political dissifents, gays, minorities in Iran? definitely not.
      3) Drone assassinations and maimings? maybe. Does this even come near the floggings/amputations, imprisonments and murders carried out by the IRGC? not even close.
      Yes, one can compare but Iran comes out worse every time.

      • Iran 24/07, it does not necessarily have to be on the same scale even though it can be. Law enforcement officers have killed an average of nearly 400 people a year(google.wikipedia)
        There are over 3000 death row inmates and over 40 inmates executed in the US. It is listed as on of the 5 countries with high executions china, saudi arabia, iraq,iran complete the list. I am not here to defend Iran, i am not iranian, but don;t defend the US either because they are guilty as well. Thanks

      • does it have to come close to the one in Iran? no. being the promoter in chief of democracy even a trace of this should not exist. I don’t see or hear about these in Europe.

  6. I strongly suggest you take the following, widely-distributed, Iran Quiz:

    A sample question from the Quiz:
    Question 3:
    How many known cases of an Iranian suicide-bomber have there been since 1989?

    -Zero. There is not a single known instance of an Iranian suicide-bomber since the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. According to Robert Baer, an American author and former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, it is important to understand that Iran used suicide bombers as the ultimate “smart bomb.” In fact, there is little difference between an Iranian suicide-bomber and a U.S. marine who rushes a machine-gun nest to meet his certain death. In contrast to Iran which used suicide bombers for tactical military purposes, Sunni extremists use suicide bombing for vague objectives such as to “purify the state.”
    -The “most comprehensive, data-based study of suicide terrorism carried out to date determined that there has never been an Iranian suicide bomber. Iranian support for paramilitary groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations or threats to American forces–Hizballah, HAMAS, Shi’a militias in Iraq–has been focused in theaters where the United States, Israel, or Sunni states allied to Washington are seeking to undermine important Iranian interests.”
    -Westerners “think of images of demonstrations and chanting crowds and assume (encouraged by our news media) that Iranian Shi’ism is a dangerous, uncontrollable, fanatical force. But in truth the religious hierarchy that Iranian Shi’ism has developed means that religious Iranians are more controlled, more subject to religious discipline and the guidance of senior clerics (most of whom are pragmatic and moderate, and many of whom are out of sympathy with the Islamic regime) than Sunni Muslims, who since the dissolution of the Caliphate in the 1920s have lacked that kind of structure. Some experts have pointed to that lack as a factor in the rise of radical, theologically incoherent groups like Al-Qaeda….An important strand of Iranian Shi’ism is a traditional quietist principle that commends decent, honest conduct and the patient endurance of adversity.”

    • Let’s start with invasions: Yes, Iran has never invaded another country and yet Lebanon is an Iranian satellite state and Syria, Yemen and Iraq will be if Tehran has its way. “How can that be?” one might legimitally ask. Quite simply through proxy organizations (military and “cultural”) such as Hezbollah and Hamas as well as through financial and military support and guidance managed by the Qods chief – Suleimani who we wrote about earlier.
      Oh, and what about suicide bombers, then? Same answer – Tehran supports and operates terrorist proxy organizations who carry out terror attacks for them.
      I wonder how “quietest, decent and honest” you would think the Shi’ite really are if you were an opponent of Hezbollah in Lebanon or a revbel in Syria.

  7. well I’m Iranian and against some believes of the government in power but honestly this article just ain’t true. the islam that ISIS is forcing on people is far from the real and true islam . please research and get to know iran and more importantly islam before posting such articles. thank you

    • thanks hesa,
      i understand your point but i stand by the post: Islam is not the problem and it never was. the abuse of islam by people who view it as a means to control people is.
      obviously, it is hard to commpare 10,000 “rogue” soldiers on a rampage to a government of a country the size of iran, but the abuse of human rights by iran in the name of islam is similar.

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