Friday, February 24, 2012
Devil's Wedding Bells: the marriage of Iran & al Qaeda
Al-Qaeda's Big Fat Iranian Wedding -Clifford D. May
The Bush administration waged what it called a Global War on Terrorism. Yet against Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, no serious actions were ever taken. President Obama is waging what he calls a “war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.” Yet he and his advisers are reluctant to articulate what has become indisputable: Iran and al-Qaeda are affiliated.
Senior Obama officials have come closer to calling a spade a spade: Last week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda as a “longstanding . . . marriage.” But you had to listen carefully to hear him say that.
"Iran has harbored al-Qaeda leaders, facilitators,” Clapper told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. They have been “under house-arrest conditions. [Iran’s rulers] have had this sort of standoff arrangement with al-Qaeda, allowing [al-Qaeda] to exist [inside Iran], but not to foment any operations directly from Iran, because they’re very sensitive about, ‘Hey, we might come after them there as well.’ . . . So there has been this longstanding, as I say, kind of, shotgun marriage, or marriage of convenience. I think, probably, the Iranians may think that they might use, perhaps, al-Qaeda in the future as a surrogate or proxy.”
Not quite a model of analytic clarity but, as I said, at least it approaches reality (and do note the cryptic warning about Iran deploying al-Qaeda terrorists down the road).
Also last week: The U.S. Treasury Department designated the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) as a sponsor of terrorism. And among the terrorist groups Treasury said MOIS supports: al-Qaeda. The forms this support has taken: facilitating the movement of al-Qaeda operatives in Iran; providing al-Qaeda members “with documents, identification cards, and passports”; and providing both “money and weapons” to al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq.
The terrorist attack that killed 19 Americans at Khobar Towers in 1996 was most likely an Iranian–al-Qaeda joint venture. But the Clinton administration chose to shut down FBI investigators in the belief — misguided but widespread at the time — that more moderate Iranians were coming to power in Tehran and that publicly revealing the Iranian role would impede diplomatic efforts.
[W]hy has there been so little public discussion of the Iranian-al-Qaeda relationship? Two reasons suggest themselves: (1) Scholars, journalists, and intelligence analysts who denied this association in the past are reluctant to admit they were wrong. (2) Knowledge conveys responsibility: If Iran is — and long has been — married to al-Qaeda, and if Iran is now just a few spins of a centrifuge away from acquiring nuclear weapons, it follows that strong measures must be taken against this growing threat.
That’s a message many Americans do not want to hear. It’s certainly a message many American leaders do not want to tell them.
[Jewish World Review]