Nicaragua's Contra rebels in 1990. The U.S. backed the Contras in the 1980s, which led to the ouster of the leftist Sandinista leadership. But the U.S. aid violated American law and contributed to the biggest scandal of President Reagan's administration. Michael Stravato/AP hide caption itoggle caption Michael Stravato/AP Parallels - World News When The U.S. Backs Rebels, It Doesn't Often Go As Planned As the U.S. begins to arm and train Syrian rebels, here's a look at the very mixed record of U.S. support for rebel movements from Angola to Afghanistan.