Almost two years ago, I did a presentation for analysts at the National Counter Terrorism Center looking at determining which Iranian actions may be termed rogue exploits. I’ve since refined that talk, and presented it for a number of carrier strike groups heading to the Persian Gulf. The talk goes into a number of assassinations and terrorist attacks from the early 1980s to the present.
While diplomats and pundits are willing to excuse the worst Iranian actions as simply the act of rogue agents or officers and while the Islamic Republic is happy to maintain its own plausible deniability, without exception it is possible tell which actions were state-sanctioned and which were rogue by looking at their aftermath. In two famous cases—the Mehdi Hashemi affair and the aftermath of the Khorramshahr missile base incident—the perpetrators ended up dead, even though they were politically connected. They had conducted rogue operations and, even when successful, they paid the ultimate price. In other cases—the Qassemlou Affair, the Mykonos Café attack, the AMIA bombings, the British small boat incident, among others—the perpetrator got promoted.
As an out-group in the study, I considered the same trend in Turkey.