This paper will compare state sponsorship for Sunni and Shii Islamist movements to investigate the question what role foreign state sponsorship has on the trajectories and decisions, and the success, of Islamist movements. Shii Islamist movements have largely had to rely on Iran as a foreign sponsor, and this has limited their independence from Iran. How has this affected their overall performance, in violent and non-violent contexts? What does that tell us about foreign state sponsorship in general, where Sunni movements have had a larger group of patrons to choose from, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan. Has this facilitated factionalism and ideological competition? And when states outside the Islamic world, like the US, have sponsored Sunni and Shii Islamist movements, has broadened their room for manoeuvre and relative dependence on regional sponsors or otherwise affected their development? The paper will be based on fieldwork before the Covid-19 pandemic, a reading of movement literature and a rethinking of existing secondary literature.