Powerful documentary made by Vice News that exposes what we have been relaying on Syria for many months. The take over of “rebel” held positions in Syria by people indoctrinated with Nazi-style propaganda by al-Qaeda.
by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
March 4, 2014
His hands are barely large enough to reach the trigger, but the 5-year-old boy pulls hard on his AK-47 as his father stands beside him cheering. Elsewhere, a boy of 4 raises a machete, then strikes, beheading an unarmed prisoner.
These are the scenes that are emerging from Syria now, as opposition groups ranging from the Free Syrian Army to the al-Qaida affiliated Al Nusra Front recruit children, boys barely old enough to stand alone, to fight. But unlike most young boys who frequently play “soldier” and “superhero,” pitting the good guys against the bad guys, their weaponry is real. And there aren’t any good guys.
A Human Rights Watch report sounded the alarm as early as 2012, noting the documented deaths of “at least 17 children who fought with the FSA. Many others have been severely injured, and some permanently disabled.” Few listened.
Yet now, videos recently uploaded to the Internet depicting boys on the streets of Syria confirm this and other reports about the rise in child soldiers in the ongoing civil war. In addition, the United Nations Security Council’s “Report on Children and Armed Conflict in the Syrian-Arab Republic,” dated Jan. 27, discloses horrific abuses by President Bashar Assad’s forces, who subject children to unspeakable forms of torture:
Government forces have also been responsible for the arrest, arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of children. Armed opposition groups have been responsible for the recruitment of children both in combat and support roles, as well as for conducting military operations, including using terror tactics, in civilian-populated areas, leading to civilian casualties including children.
Torture often is used against children to force confessions from their relatives, studies have found. “Ill treatment and acts tantamount to torture reportedly included beatings with metal cables, whips, and wooden and metal batons; electric shocks, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails; sexual violence, including rape or threats of rape; mock executions; cigarette burns; sleep deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to the torture of relatives,” according to the UN Security Council’s analysis. “Reports indicate that children were also suspended from walls or ceilings by their wrists or other limbs, were forced to put their head, neck, and legs through a tire while being beaten, and were tied to a board and beaten.”
It doesn’t stop there: further evidence also suggests that Syrian armed forces have arrested young children – girls as well as boys – to use as human shields. And none of this includes the sexual violence against girls, perpetrated by male fighters on all sides of the conflict.
It is almost too much to bear, simply reading of these atrocities. Imagine being a child, living them.
Al Qaeda is laying the groundwork to relaunch in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the United States and other international forces.
The Associated Press reports:
Farouq al-Qahtani al-Qatari has been cementing local ties and bringing in small numbers of experienced militants to train a new generation of fighters, and U.S. military and intelligence officials say they have stepped up drone and jet missile strikes against him and his followers in the mountainous eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. The objective is to keep him from restarting the large training camps that once drew hundreds of followers before the U.S.-led war began.
The officials say the counterterrorism campaign – a key reason the Obama administration agreed to keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014 – could be jeopardized by the possibility of a total pullout.
Officials that spoke on the condition of anonymity say that unless the United States is able to keep a presence in Afghanistan, leaders of the terrorist group will be able to plan new attacks against U.S. targets from the country.
The administration would like to leave up to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after combat operations end on Dec. 31, to continue training Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism missions. But without the agreement that would authorize international forces to stay in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has threatened to pull all troops out, and NATO forces would follow suit. After talking to Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week, Obama ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for the so-called zero option.
U.S. military and intelligence officials say unless they can continue to fly drones and jets from at least one air base in Afghanistan – either Bagram in the north or Jalalabad in the east – al-Qahtani and his followers could eventually plan new attacks against U.S. targets, although experts do not consider him one of the most dangerous al-Qaida leaders.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which controls the city of Al-Raqqa, announced that it had signed a “Security” pact with the Christian residents of Al-Raqqa in return for their embracing the laws of dhimma – protection. In a statement dated February 23, 2014, that ISIS published in the city, the organization said that it posed three alternatives to Christians who had fled Al-Raqqa, but now sought to return:
- Convert to Islam
- Accept the conditions of dhimma
- Reject these offers and face war
The statement claimed the agreement to sign the pact was reached at a meeting between representatives of ISIS and the Christian community.
The pact’s wording and clauses follow dhimma pacts made by medieval Islamic states, with a few modifications that take consideration of modern developments, such as the ban on using megaphones to broadcast prayers. The text opens with a polemic against Christianity, quoting Quranic verses claiming Islam’s superiority over Christianity and the veracity of Islamic theological positions.
It then states: “This is the protection that Abdallah Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the commander of the faithful, granted the Christians of Al-Raqqa. He granted security to their lives, their property, their churches and their progeny in Al-Raqqa. Their churches and their surroundings will not be destroyed or harmed, nor will their property. They will not be coerced with regard to their religion [i.e. they will not be forced to convert to Islam], and none of them will be harmed.”
The pact incorporates the following restrictions on the Christians:
- They are forbidden to build new churches or rebuild destroyed ones.
- They must not showcase crosses or religious books, and they are forbidden to use megaphones to broadcast their prayers.
- They must not read their books out loud in front of Muslims or sound their bells.
- They must not carry out any hostile actions against ISIS, or provide refuge to spies or persons wanted by ISIS. They must inform ISIS of any “conspiracy” against it.
- They must refrain from any display of worship outside their church.
- They may not prevent any member of their community from converting to Islam.
- They must honor Islam and the Muslims, and not offend their religion in any way.
- The Christians committed to pay a poll tax of “4 golden dinars” i.e. 17 grams of gold for the wealthy, 8.5 for middle income owners, and half of that for the poor.
- They are forbidden to carry weapons.
- They are forbidden to sell pork or wine to the Muslims or publicly consume them.
- They must comply with any additional restrictions that ISIS may impose on their dress, trade or other matters.
In conclusion ISIS stated that as long as the Christians comply with these restrictions they will be protected. If they violate them, they will be treated as enemies at war.
See photos of the pact at MEMRI
A report by John Rossomando at IPT states that although Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has disowned ISIS, this dhimma pact bears the al Qaeda stamp.
In a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.
“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef.
Mr. Curran gave the testimony in 2010 to an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists. The Times was recently alerted to the existence of the testimony while working on a broader report about al Qaeda’s origins.
Members of the Sept. 11 commission, congressional intelligence committees and terrorism analysts told The Times they are floored that the information is just now emerging publicly and that it raises questions about what else Americans might not have been told about the origins of al Qaeda and its early interest in attacking the United States.
“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” said former Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004 through 2007 when lawmakers dealt with the fallout from the 9/11 Commission’s official report.
“This is just one more of these examples that will go into the conspiracy theorists’ notebooks, who say the authorities are not telling us everything,” Mr. Hoekstra told The Times in an interview last week. “That’s bad for the intelligence community. It’s bad for law enforcement and it’s bad for government.”
Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission with former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, said that as far as he can remember, the FBI never told the commission that it had been working a source so close to bin Laden that many years before 9/11.
Exactly how the information was omitted from the various congressional reviews and the 9/11 Commission report is a mystery. FBI officials and staff involved in the review said they couldn’t determine definitely so many years later whether the information was kept from the various investigations or whether it was simply overlooked by staff in the thousands of pages of documents and electronic records made available during the exhaustive reviews of al Qaeda’s history.
“Both the commission and the U.S. government compiled a fair amount of evidence about the activities of the set of groups later best known as al Qaeda during [the early-1990s], when the group was settling into Sudan. We did not delve as deeply in this period because it was so distant from the plotting that led directly to the 9/11 attack,” said Philip Zelikow, who served as the 9/11 Commission’s executive director and now teaches history at the University of Virginia.
Like Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Zelikow said he does not recall ever being told by the FBI about the 1993 source and that Mr. Curran’s disclosure appeared to involve “valuable intelligence gathered in 1993 and 1994.”
FBI officials told The Times that the bureau could not say for certain that its agents specifically briefed the 9/11 Commission about the 1993 asset or plot but was proud that it gave unfettered access to its records to the various investigators.
Read more at Washington Times
Sunday’s assassination of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s representative in Syria underscores an ongoing power struggle among jihadist movements there.
Abu Khalid al-Suri was killed in a suicide bombing conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Ahrar al-Sham leader Hassan Aboud announced in a Twitter posting that Abu Khalid al-Suri, whose real name was Mohamed Bahaiah, had been killed. Al-Suri co-founded Ahrar al-Sham, a leading Salafi-jihadi group in Syria, according to the Daily Mail.
Zawahiri sent him Syria as his personal representative in the region last May, theLong War Journal reports. He was supposed to mediate divisions between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. That didn’t work.
“Direct your car bombs at the infidels and do not busy yourself with fighting the mujahedeen and killing them,” al-Suri said in a recording aimed at ISIS last month. Both were al-Qaida affiliates before Zawahiri announced that ISIS had no connection with the global terrorist movement on Feb. 3.
Al-Suri had been a trusted courier of Osama bin Laden’s. A 2003 New York Times story cited a Spanish judicial official as saying that he was “the person who was totally trusted by many different people in the various countries and was able to coordinate and transmit orders from bin Laden.” The report said that he had been a key intermediary between the top al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan and jihadists in Spain and the United Kingdom.
He also had ties with Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, better known in intelligence circles as Abu Musab al-Suri, a prominent Syrian al-Qaida theorist who championed decentralizing the terror group. Nasar’s name surfaced as a suspect in the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombing.
Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front have been fighting ISIS with increasing ferocity since the beginning of the year. Infighting between the various jihadist factions will worsen as a result of al-Suri’s assassination, Islamic Front spokesman Akram al-Halabi told the Associated Press.
- Islamic Front official posts pictures of al Qaeda’s top representative in Syria (longwarjournal.org)
Foreign Policy mag’s War on Error article spends a good deal of time parsing the relationship between Al Qaeda and its affiliates. Most of the wordage in the article is unnecessary.
Al Qaeda, as we know it, was always meant as a base, the core that it takes its name from, a revolutionary vanguard to inspire a worldwide movement. The current situation is what it wanted all along.
The article similarly treats the fact that Al Qaeda is moving from terrorism to a larger scale insurgency as a significant revelation. It’s not.
This is the standard path for terrorist groups which begin with terrorist attacks and then try to carve out territories they control and recruit larger forces so that they can become guerrilla movements. All this has already happened with Hamas and Hezbollah.
Lefty critics have tried to make hay out of Al Qaeda’s unstable command structure suggesting that it doesn’t really exist. Again, a brief look at the history of terrorist and insurgent groups shows that this is more common than not. Al Qaeda has never been all that stable. It was always patched together and that’s true of a lot of non-Muslim terrorist groups as well.
Terrorism however is a tactic. Al Qaeda is not conflicted about whether it’s a terrorist group the way that Western pundits are. It sees itself as a classic Jihadist fighting group which uses terrorism and more conventional armed warfare as ways to achieve its religious goals.
Whether Al Qaeda engages in terrorism or armed insurgency depends on context, not identity or philosophy. Al Qaeda doesn’t yet have the manpower and firepower to engage in an insurgency in the UK or the US, so it engages in terrorism. It does have the manpower in Iraq, Syria and Yemen so it engages in something closer to armed warfare.
The term terrorism carries special meaning for the West, but true Muslim armies don’t observe any human rights and commit atrocities regardless of whether they are setting off bombs while pretending to be civilians or moving in bands and beheading civilians. That’s the legacy of Mohammed’s murderous conquests.
Al Qaeda engages in terrorism, it engages in insurgency and it runs towns and villages like a government depending on how much power it has at a given time and place. Its goal is the latter. It wants to be a government. Terrorism and armed warfare are a means to taking over and imposing Islamic law.
These are all just different means of killing people.
BY JONATHAN SPYER:
Jerusalem Post, 21/2
Will Israel be dragged into the Syrian conflict?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit this week to an IDF field hospital where wounded Syrians are receiving treatment served to showcase the Israeli humanitarian effort to respond to the crisis facing Syrian civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict. Recent reports suggest that the Israeli focus on events in southern Syria goes beyond purely humanitarian concerns.
Increasing attention is being paid by Israeli planners to the buildup of extreme Sunni Islamist forces close to the border with the Golan Heights. There are indications that Israel has already begun to implement a strategy intended to keep the jihadis from the border.
According to a report by prominent Israeli Middle East analyst Ehud Ya’ari published recently at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Israel is currently moving toward ‘assuming a modest role in the Syrian civil war.’
Ya’ari notes that the extent of Israel’s humanitarian operation inside Syria suggests that ‘a system of communications and frequent contacts have been established with the local rebel militias.’
The Israeli analyst reports that the background to such increased engagement is the loss by the Assad regime of control of most of the border area between southern Syria and the Golan Heights. Israeli contacts with the rebel militias in this area would serve to facilitate the latter acting as a de facto buffer against the jihadis.
This largely off-the-radar activity in the south forms part of a broader Israeli concern at the increasingly prominent role played by jihadi and Sunni Islamist elements in the Syrian rebellion.
An un-named senior IDF officer quoted in a recent article in Defense News noted that ‘Today, rebels control most of the area of the south Golan Heights…Among rebel forces, the moderates are increasingly exhausted while the radicals have become strengthened.’
He added that ‘For the moment, they are not fighting us, but we know their ideology. … It could be that, in the coming months, we could find ourselves dragged into confrontation with them.”
IDF Military Intelligence head Aviv Kochavi, meanwhile, in an address at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on January 29 estimated that around 30,000 jihadi fighters were active in Syria. Ya’ari, meanwhile, estimated the strength of Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) as around 40,000 fighters.
These numbers are of particular interest in that they are considerably in excess of the estimates made by most analysts of Syria concerning the numbers of extreme jihadis present on the Syrian battlefield. While accurate estimates of combatant forces on the Syrian rebel side are notoriously hard to come by, the more usual estimate of the combined strength of al-Qaeda linked forces in Syria would be between 15-20,000.
This suggests that Israeli estimates may take a somewhat broader definition of what constitutes extreme salafi and al-Qaeda linked groups than those made by western analysts.
A third openly salafi force plays a prominent role mainly in northern Syria. This is the Ahrar al-Sham group, thought to number around 20,000 fighters. This group has no known links with the central leadership of al-Qaeda. Yet it adheres to an extreme salafi ideology. One of its leading members, Abu Khaled al-Suri, recently described himself as a member of al-Qaeda.
If it is indeed the case that Israeli analysts would include Ahrar al Sham and groups of this type under the rubric of potentially dangerous Sunni jihadi forces (and there are good reasons to do so), then this has interesting implications.
Read more at Gloria Center
By: R. Green, Research Fellow at MEMRI
The global jihad movement has been experiencing a rift of unprecedented proportions in light of the events in Syria. The rising tension between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a multitude of other rebel groups, which has escalated to the point of fierce fighting, has forced Al-Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan-Pakistan to publicly distance itself from ISIS. The following is a review of the events that led to this schism and the conclusions to be drawn from them.
Global jihad has been involved in the war in Syria from the outset. Initially, elements associated with it began operating in Syria as part of a new organization named Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN). The organization, which officially announced its existence in early 2012, portrayed itself as a group of Syrian jihad fighters and avoided revealing that it was established by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). In April 2013, ISI leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared he was eliminating JN as an independent organization and merging it with the ISI, and that the joint organization would henceforth be known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
JN commander Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani rejected this declaration and announced that he and his men would continue operating independently as part of JN. He publicly declared his association with Al-Qaeda and renewed his oath of fealty to its leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri. From this point, a struggle developed between the two organizations over the leadership of the jihad in Syria, with each side attempting to recruit as many fighters as possible and as much support as possible from leading Salafi-jihadi clerics. Al-Zawahiri himself attempted to arbitrate in this matter, determining that ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi should remain in Iraq and leave the Syrian front to Al-Joulani and JN. He even appointed his confidant, Abu Khalid Al-Suri, as his personal representative in Syria. Al-Baghdadi surprisingly rejected this decision and declared that “the Islamic State remains in Syria.”
Throughout the summer and fall of 2013, ISIS gathered strength in the field and became an influential element in rebel-controlled areas. Its success leaned on several foundations:
1. Quality military actions thanks to efficient organization and hierarchy.
2. Effective function on the battlefield with the use of ruthless tactics.
3. An aggressive and sophisticated informational array.
4. Massive recruitment of foreign fighters, who mostly joined ISIS whether they came from Arab countries, Asia, or the West.
5. Considerable financial resources.
6. The flow of manpower from Iraq thanks to successful prison breaks in the course of which many members of the organization were sprung. Yes? They were members of the organization to begin with?
7. The support of leading clerics and figures in the global Salafi-jihadi movement.
Al-Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan-Pakistan, which attributes supreme importance to the Syrian arena, was forced to throw in its lot with JN. It sent a delegation of advisors and instructors who were veterans of battles in Afghanistan-Pakistan to assist Al-Joulani, and upgraded JN to an official Al-Qaeda affiliate. Since several months ago the title “Al-Qaeda in Syria” appears alongside JN’s name.
ISIS center in Al-Dana, near Idlib, bombed by rival rebel forces
Tension Between Rebel Groups And ISIS
ISIS has in fact been in conflict with other rebel groups ever since its establishment in April 2013 – both with groups associated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and with Islamist organizations that strive to establish an Islamic state. The struggle is for around control of territory, cities and resources, and often plays out on the local level between ISIS and local militias and bodies. In addition, there is opposition to the very existence of ISIS in Syria, since it is seen as an outside body relying on foreign fighters and as an extremist organization whose ideology and tactics harm the image of all rebels. This, on top of the organization’s tendency to spread its extremist beliefs and strictly enforce shari’a law.
In November 2013, six Salafi organizations and groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood announced the establishment of the Islamic Front – a coalition estimated to include some 100,000 fighters. One of the goals of its establishment, which was clear to all even though it was not openly stated, was to reduce the power of ISIS and present an ostensibly moderate Islamic alternative to global jihad organizations. In recent month ISIS and Islamic Front officials have been exchanging recriminations and tensions have escalated to armed confrontations in several places. The Islamic Front is considered close to the Gulf states, who see it as a major role-player in the war against the Assad regime, as well as a means to reduce the danger they face from the extremist agenda of ISIS. It should be mentioned that JN and its officials hold close ties with the Islamic Front.
Following the unification of the Islamist factions, additional coalitions were established, such as Jaysh Al-Mujahideen in the Aleppo area, whose stated purpose is to fight ISIS and remove it from Syria.
The struggle between ISIS and JN over the leadership of the jihadi arena in Syria, two jihadi organizations that share the same world view, currently encompasses all jihadi circles in the world. Clerics, preachers, activists, donors – all are compelled to take sides. Al-Qaeda central in Afghanistan-Pakistan has always seen itself as the spearhead of jihadi fighters – a kind of guiding body that remotely controls jihadi organizations around the globe. The West too sees Al-Qaeda as an octopus that guides terrorist action in various places worldwide. Now Al-Zawahiri and the few other core members who are still alive are forced to deal with an unexpected threat – a challenge by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, which essentially pulls the rug out from under the veteran leadership. Al-Baghdadi and ISIS continue to pay lip service to Al-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda and maintain its honor. However, in practice, Al-Baghdadi has designated himself as a global leader of the jihad fighters in particular and of Muslims in general, and as a herald of the Caliphate. This crisis is expected to continue and rock the global jihad movement in the foreseeable future.
Read more at MEMRI
Long War Journal, By THOMAS JOSCELYN:
The cell has multiple, direct ties to al Qaeda. In particular, Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, who has long served as a subordinate to Ayman al Zawahiri, is one of the cell’s leaders. Jamal founded his own al Qaeda network (conveniently referred to as the “Muhammad Jamal Network,” or MJN, in the West) after being released from prison in 2011. According to terrorist designations issued by both the US State Department and the United Nations, Jamal worked with al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The designations by the State Department and the UN confirmed previous reporting by The Long War Journal. We were the first to report, at least in the English-speaking press, that Jamal was in direct contact with Zawahiri in 2011 and 2012. Jamal’s letters to Zawahiri revealed his ties to AQAP and AQIM.
Some of Jamal’s fighters participated in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Jamal established training camps in both the Sinai and eastern Libya prior to the attack.
Here is one of the newly published photos of Jamal. It is almost as if he is trying to tell us something. According to my colleague Oren Adaki, the note Jamal is holding reads, “Al Qaeda is perched on the hearts of the believers.”
Jamal brandishes the photo of bin Laden in other pictures as well. We previously published another photo of Jamal at The Long War Journal.
The Nasr City cell loves the picture of bin Laden. Below is a picture of Sheikh Adel Shehato, a founding member of the cell, holding up the image. Like Jamal, Shehato was a senior member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which was led by Ayman al Zawahiri and merged with bin Laden’s venture before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Shehato was also one of the key al Qaeda ideologues who helped instigate the protest in front of the US Embassy in Cairo on the morning of Sept. 11, 2012 – just hours before the US Mission and Annex in Benghazi were overrun.
The story of the Nasr City cell and the Muhammad Jamal Network is a fascinating one. It challenges so many of the widely-held assumptions about al Qaeda’s current operations. The MJN is a good example of how various al Qaeda organizations and parties are linked in a global network, with Jamal receiving cash and assistance from AQAP while he is also working with AQIM. The story also shows that Zawahiri is still very much in the game. Jamal’s letters to the al Qaeda master in 2011 and 2012 were fawning, and clearly showed that he was seeking Zawahiri’s permission for his operations.
But sometimes a picture, or pictures, are worth a thousand words. Jamal, Shehato, and the other Nasr City cell defendants are quite proud of their al Qaeda roles.
- Al Qaeda’s expansion into Egypt (longwarjournal.org)
PJ Media, By Andrew C. McCarthy:
The Washington Post finds it newsworthy that senior al Qaeda figures are leaving, or being shown the door, in Iran. Obviously, it is an interesting development … but one is constrained to ask why the Post did not seem to think it much of a story that Iran was harboring al Qaeda leaders in the first place.
Iran, as our friend Michael Ledeen has repeatedly observed (most recently, here), is the chief sponsor of jihadism in the world. That it is a Shiite jihadist regime has not made much difference where the West is concerned: the mullahs have trained, supplied, financed and harbored Sunni jihadists – al Qaeda and Hamas prominently among them – for over 20 years. This is the most outrageous aspect of the U.S. government’s negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program, negotiations conducted by both the Bush and Obama administrations. The regime’s nuclear ambitions have been compartmentalized from its terror facilitation, notwithstanding that it is the regime’s propagation of revolutionary jihad that makes its potential acquisition of nukes so intolerable. We do not sit up at night worrying about, say, India’s nuclear weapons. We have anxiety over Iran because for its regime, “Death to America” is not a slogan, it is a ruthlessly pursued goal.
This is why Michael and I, among not nearly enough others, have urged for a decade that the problem in Iran is the regime, not the nukes, and that any sensible American foreign policy should make regime change in Iran an imperative. This has never necessarily meant a military invasion of Iran (although that option should always be on the table – not as saber-rattling but as a something the mullahs become convinced is a realistic possibility). It has simply meant that we should have organized every aspect of American foreign policy – military, intelligence, economic, and diplomatic – on strangling the regime until it is deposed, hopefully by the Iranian people themselves but by external forces if that’s what it takes.
The mullahs gave their al Qaeda allies a soft place to land after the post-9/11 U.S. invasion. Naturally, some see the apparent al Qaeda exodus from Iran as a hopeful sign that Obama’s amateur-hour rapprochement gambit is working. But of course, it has nothing to do with that. What the president is doing is, as observed by none less than Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, is a slow motion surrender – and note that, only a day ago, Tehran’s jihadist-in-chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for “economic jihad” against the West. Iran has no incentive to help what Khamenei continues to call “the enemy,” the United States, against its erstwhile ally, al Qaeda – and if it did, as Michael Rubin points out, it would be handing the al Qaeda leaders over to us, not allowing them to return to places whether they can direct jihadist violence against us.
No, the explanation for al Qaeda’s vacating of (or expulsion from) Iran is straightforward. First, al Qaeda is ascendant in the Middle East and North Africa thanks to the Obama policy of empowering Islamists; it no longer has need of safe harbor in Iran. Second, the Syrian civil war has caused a major rift between the mullahs and al Qaeda – as it has between the mullahs and Hamas. Indeed, an al Qaeda franchise, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, has just claimed responsibility for bombing the Iranian embassy in Lebanon last November 19, as well as for bombings yesterday in Beirut, stronghold of Iran’s forward terrorist militia, Hezbollah. Reuters reports the Brigades’ statement:
We will continue – through the grace of God and his strength – to target Iran and its party in Lebanon (Hezbollah) in all of their security, political and military centers to achieve our two demands: One, the exit of all fighters from the Party of Iran in Syria; two, the release of all our prisoners from oppressive Lebanese prisons.
Recall that many of us have vigorously opposed the policy preference of the Beltway GOP establishment (led by Senator John McCain) for U.S. intervention in Syria. Besides its obviously being against our security interests to empower America’s enemies (the al Qaeda- and Muslim Brotherhood-rife “rebels”), I’ve maintained that, deprived of our lightning rod effect, Islamic supremacists would turn viciously on one another, degrading themselves in a we have failed to degrade them.
Al-Qaeda figures or associates linked to Iran (washingtonpost.com)
This data is taken from a leaked top-secret 2008 document and updated with information gathered from interviews with current and former U.S. intelligence officials. Many of the al-Qaeda figures, some known only by their aliases, were listed as in Iranian custody. Dozens of al-Qaeda fighters fled to Iran after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but it’s unclear how much freedom of movement they had in the country. Read more about departures from Iran
Abu Hafs the Mauritanian
Status: Returned to Mauritania in 2012
Bin Laden’s religious adviser, al-Qaeda in Iran’s expert on Islamic law. His proper name is Mahfouz Ould al-Walid
Abu al Kayr al Masri
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Chairman, al-Qaeda Management Council; former chief of foreign relations for al-Qaeda, including liaison to the Taliban; long-standing ties to current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden
Status: Presumed to be in Iran
Member of al-Qaeda Management Council; involved in planning terrorist operations and directing al-Qaeda propaganda efforts; former chief of military operations; worked closely with Abu Muhammad al-Masri
Abu Muhammad al-Masri
Status: Presumed to be in Iran
Member of al-Qaeda Management Council; most experienced and capable operational planner not in U.S. or allied custody; former chief of training; worked closely with Saif al-Adel
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith
Status: In U.S. custody
Member of al-Qaeda Management Council; official spokesman for al-Qaeda before detention
Abu Dahhak, aka Ali Saleh Husain al-Tabuki
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Facilitator; former representative of Chechen mujahideen in Afghanistan
Abu Layth al-Libi, aka Ali Ammar Ashur al-Rufayi’l
Status: Killed in U.S. drone strike
Paramilitary commander; active in Eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan border region; exercises significant autonomy; enjoys long-standing ties to senior managers
Abd al-Aziz al-Masri, aka Ali Sayed Muhammad Mustafa Al-Bakri
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Al-Qaeda associate; senior poisons and explosives expert; involved in nuclear research since late 1990s; had close relationships with Saif al-Adel and Khalid Sheik Muhammad.
Abu Dujana al-Masri
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Explosives instructor before detention; member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad; Zawahiri son-in-law
Muhammad Ahmad Shawqi al-Islambuli, aka Muhammad Ahmad Shawqi Islambouli
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Al-Qaeda facilitator; senior member of Egyptian Al-Gamaat Al-Islamiyah; former ties to Iranian Ministry of Intelligence; brother of Anwar Sadat assassin Khalid al Islambuli.
Status: Has left Iran
Former Zawahiri deputy. Experienced operational planner; respected among al-Qaeda rank and file with previous ties to Zarqawi.
Status: Presumed to be in Pakistan, Jordan or Iran
Member of the al-Qaeda Shura Council.
Qassim al-Suri, aka Qassam al-Suri, aka Qassem al-Suri, aka Yasin Baqush, aka Yasin al Suri
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Provides communications link between al-Qaeda leaders in Waziristan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Planning, coordinating attack plots in Europe with several al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-affiliated cells.
Ali Mujahid Tekushir
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Provides explosives, computer and Internet training to al-Qaeda recruits. Facilitates movement of senior-level extremists from Iran into Iraq. Reports link him to plots against the New York subway system in December 2005.
Abu Talha Hamza al Baluchi
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Iran-based al-Qaeda facilitator
Jafar al Uzbeki, aka Jafar the Uzbek
Status: Presumed to have at one point been in Iran
Representative of al-Qaeda senior leadership working to negotiate the release of al-Qaeda members held by Iran
Anas al Liby, aka Abu Anas al-Libi, aka Naziyah, aka Anas al-Subayi, aka Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai
Status: In U.S. custody
Believed to have been invovled in the 1998 East Africa bombings; senior member of al-Qaeda; member of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group security committee
Published Feb. 14, 2014.
In an unusual move, one of the suspects in the 2012-13 Via Railway terror plot has been allowed to give an interview to the Canadian National Post. That interview is remarkable because it explains the jihadist motivations behind the plot in clear and unambiguous language that leaves no room for doubt about “why they hate us.” Those who would confront and defeat this hate and the terror plots it inspires would do well to listen to the words of Chiheb Esseghaier.
Esseghaier was a Tunisian doctoral student at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, a branch of the Université de Quebec and a landed immigrant who’d come to Canada in 2008. His travel to Zahedan, in eastern Iran, caught the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which launched a complex investigation that eventually led to the unraveling of a joint al-Qa’eda-Iran plot to blow up a passenger train over the Niagara River gorge. Esseghaier and fellow suspect, Raed Jaser (from the United Arab Emirates), were arrested in the conspiracy and now face terror charges in Canadian court. Over the months since their April 2013 arrest, Esseghaier has made a number of court appearances as well as public statements, of which the recent National Post interview includes just the latest.
Although thanks to good intelligence and police work, Canada to date has been spared the kind of horrific terror attacks that have made headlines elsewhere in the West (Burgas, London, Madrid, U.S.), there have been jihadist attempts, including the August 2010 Ottawa Parliament plot and the earlier 2006 Toronto 18 plot. National Post coverage of the Via Railway terror plot has been extensive and its multiple reports quoting the very vocal Esseghaier are revealing, even though it is clear the Post itself doesn’t understand what he’s been trying to tell them. Faced with the reality that their country, too, is a target, Canadians have been struggling to make sense out of Esseghaier’s simple pronouncement: “I am a Muslim.” The so-called “experts on extremism” consulted by the National Post weren’t much help: Prof. Lorne Dawson, ex-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, opined that Esseghaier’s views were “very comparable to what one might hear from a strident anti-abortion activist coming from a Christian perspective.”
In fact, Esseghaier is nothing like a Christian pro-life activist. In his own words, he has explained that he sees himself as a faithful member of the global Islamic ummah. He calls Muslim Afghans his “brothers and sisters,” because according to Islamic doctrine, national borders and the world order that Canadian and other NATO members seek to defend in Afghanistan are meaningless. He believes it is his duty to follow the commands of Islam, which obligate every Muslim to wage jihad as an individual duty (fard ‘ayn) whenever non-believers (kufar) invade Islamic lands. In his court appearances, Esseghaier repeatedly has asserted his allegiance to Islamic Law (shariah) and rejected the authority of Canadian law. Challenged by the National Post to explain why he plotted to kill Canadian and American rail passengers, Esseghaier accused Canada of “[making] lawful what God made unlawful…”], which is an explicit reference to Qur’anic verse 9:29, which says
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
It is critical that national security experts and leadership grasp what Esseghaier is trying to tell us. Pretending that authoritative Islamic law and scripture are not the doctrinal source of justification for Islamic jihad (terrorism), as does A Guide to Refuting Jihadism, just out from the Henry Jackson Society, only serves to blind and neutralize our ability to confront the shariah threat. Likewise, getting hung up on group names and affiliations misses the point that Esseghaier describes so clearly: Islamic terrorism is conducted not just to kill people but to establish the pre-conditions for the ultimate objective which is the universal enforcement of Islamic Law. The 5 February 2014 War on Error from Foreign Policy offers another good illustration. Starting out by making a valiant effort at sorting out the many off-shoot franchises of Usama bin-Laden’s original al-Qa’eda, this piece unfortunately winds up taking an already muddled topic and compounding the muddling. Terming Islamic jihadis “violent extremists” or al-Qa’eda “nihilistic” with “an outlier interpretation of Islamic Law” is to miss the point entirely. Esseghaier is obviously both well-educated and well-versed in the doctrine of his faith; he is also representative of jihadis the world over who are indeed violent, but neither extremists nor nihilists within the parameters of authoritative Islam. They seek well-defined objectives based on widely-available Islamic scriptures and do not hesitate to declare them and pursue them both openly and by guile.
It is not often that a self-avowed Islamic jihadi like Esseghaier is given this sort of platform. It behooves us all to pay attention to what he says.
There are two ways of looking at Osama bin Laden’s death. One is to see his end surrounded by wives, pornography and unanswered messages to Al Qaeda leaders who were no longer taking orders from him as the fall of the leader of a failed movement.
The other is to see his death in a walled compound at the heart of the Pakistani military order that had protected him as the fading away of a retired figure in a movement that had outgrown him.
The debate over whether Al Qaeda is on the path to victory or defeat is also a debate over what Al Qaeda is. A vocal school of thought among some foreign experts of the left was that there was no Al Qaeda. The updated version of that thesis was embraced by Obama and some of his subordinates looking to do an end zone dance and hang up the Mission Accomplished banner by celebrating victory over the core of Al Qaeda and dismissing its affiliates, some of which number in the tens of thousands and are fighting to take over entire countries, as Obama put it, as Jayvee players in Lakers uniforms.
But what if the decline of the core Al Qaeda and the growth of its affiliates is the next step? What if the Lakers decided that they don’t need one really good team, but a hundred smaller teams in every city because they want to capture the entire game?
The men hanging up the Mission Accomplished banner in the East Room of the White House say that Al Qaeda can no longer stage another September 11. They may be right, though as with the last attack, we may end up discovering that they are wrong the hard way, but they are also missing the point.
The handful of Al Qaeda still hanging around Afghanistan are probably not going to pull off another spectacular terrorist attack in America, if such an attack did happen it would come out of cells in Europe or the US by terrorists who were born in the West, but who have learned the business from the ground up in Syria or in training camps in Yemen.
Or it may come from one of the Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria out to prove that it can wear the NBA Jihad uniform the same way that the original team did… by killing large numbers of Americans.
September 11 was a calling card that served its purpose for Al Qaeda moving it along to its next stage from a series of isolated terror groups to a global army with the manpower to launch full scale guerrilla wars seizing cities and entire regions. The core Al Qaeda doesn’t need another September 11. It will leave that to its affiliates, some of which are already playing with WMDs.
The Al Qaeda that we think we know, the terrorist group with cells lurking and plotting attacks, was only an intermittent stage in its growth strategy. The same is true of most terrorist groups. There was a time when the Communists were just another bunch of quarreling groups. Then they became an army and a country and a whole global union of countries. That is where Al Qaeda wanted to go all along.
Al Qaeda wants to destroy America, but it doesn’t need it to do it in the linear fashion that many imagined after September 11, by scaling up to more and more devastating attacks.
The ‘smaller and smarter’ drone strikes approach to Al Qaeda touted by Obama (if you don’t count the +1500 soldiers killed in Afghanistan) postdates a ‘smaller and smarter’ Al Qaeda approach to America.
Al Qaeda has crowdsourced terrorism to domestic “lone wolf” attackers like the Tsarnaev brothers and Nidal Hasan. Most of the attacks have failed, but as the Boston Marathon massacre reminds us, they only need to succeed once and Al Qaeda doesn’t lose any money or resources on them if they fail.
Its vision for Islamic terrorism in America is a domestic franchise, Al Qaeda in America, made up of American Muslims who are young, online and blend easily into a crowd the way the Tsarnaevs did.
Eventually it envisions Syrian style insurgencies in Western countries and while it may take a while before there are enough Muslims in America to make that a viable proposition, there are European countries whose Muslim demographics are severe enough that they have less time before the war.
This international Islamic revolution with franchises emerging everywhere, going from lone wolf attacks based on training manuals, graduating to terror cells and then to guerrilla armies and finally to emirates that swallow up entire countries is the transformative process that Al Qaeda was meant to undergo.
Al Qaeda has become less of a command center and more of a model to its franchises. Some terror experts read this as a decline, when it’s really a mission accomplished. It means that Al Qaeda has served its purpose as a base. It hasn’t lost, it has won. And the war moves on to the next stage.
Read more at Front Page
The Persians invented chess and that accomplishment is a strong part of the Iranian identity. By making it a choice between Assad and Al-Qaeda, they have checkmated their enemies.
BY RYAN MAURO:
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is in a gory battle with Al-Qaeda and he’s waging it with help from his Iranian allies—but they are supporting Al-Qaeda at the same time. This contradiction is best explained by a sophisticated political strategy to position Assad as the better of two evils.
The Assad regime in Syria has a long history of supporting Islamist terrorists, including Al-Qaeda. It gave Assad the ability to wage a deniable proxy war and the ability to point to Islamist radicals for political purposes.
The violent reaction to the Mohammed cartoons in 2006 is a pristine example. The Assad regime instigated and organized the anti-Western protests that erupted in Syria. A confidential source told the U.S. that Assad was sending a message: “We are the only thing standing between you and the Islamist hordes.”
Apologists for Assad would point to Al-Qaeda’s condemnations of his rule and ideological incompatibility with his regime, but that’s the exact reason he used them. The U.S. publicly identified and sanctioned Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria that Assad refused to neutralize.
In January 2008, the U.S. government sanctioned the owner of Zawraa T.V., an anti-American propaganda station. The Treasury Department said, “Despite being publicly critical of al-Qai’da in Iraq (AQI)…[he] worked with an AQI jihadist umbrella organization.”
Immediately after the rebellion against Assad began, he played the Islamist card. One of Assad’s first reactions to the protests was to make a supposed concession by releasing 270 political prisoners. All but 14 were Islamists. He decided it was better for him that the radicals operate out in the open. He then permitted the registering of an Islamist political party run by his close friend.
The secular democratic elements of the Syrian opposition saw right through it. Riad al-Turk, a prominent opposition leader, said Assad was “trying to scare us by invoking chaos or civil war, using the threat of the Islamists taking over and arguing that our people are not yet qualified to practice democracy.”
New reports indicate Assad is still playing this Islamist card. According to The Telegraph’s Western intelligence sources, Assad has been doing business since the spring of 2013 with Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria and Iraq.
The terrorist groups are selling oil and gas from the wells they control to the regime. The terrorists are happy because they make money and the regime doesn’t blow up their oil infrastructure. Assad is happy because his forces get fuel, the terrorists protect the oil and Al-Qaeda is the face of his opposition.
But this isn’t only about Syria. This collusion with Al-Qaeda threatens the West. It means that Assad and Iran are helping terrorists carve out a safe harbor in Syria and are helping Al-Qaeda to sustain its network as a whole.
A State Department official said that this network is also “assisting in the movement of Al-Qaeda external operatives to the West.” TheLong War Journal listed three terrorist plots against the West that the Al-Qaeda network in Iran has been implicated in: A series of attacks in Europe in 2010; the planned derailment of a train going from the U.S. to Canada last year and a plan to attack the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
This is nothing new. In fact, the 9/11 Commission report concluded that many of the 9/11 hijackers transited Iran. The Iranian authorities were instructed not to stamp their passports, easing their access to Europe and the U.S. Just like today, Iran allowed Al-Qaeda an important passageway. This contributed to a judge’s ruling in 2011that Iran and Hezbollah bear responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
The Obama Administration has long known about this network in Iran. In 2009, the Treasury Department accused Iran and Al-Qaeda of having a “secret deal.” It has been led by Yasin al-Sura since 2005, except for when al-Suri was temporarily detained by Iran because of the attention he was getting. Iran simply allowed another Al-Qaeda member to replace him. Al-Suri was recently freed.
Read more at Clarion Project
Playing the al-Qaeda card has been one of the most effective strategies utilized by the Iranian and Syrian regimes - Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The United States Treasury Department in a report released this week has charged Iran for assisting al-Qaeda operatives based in the Islamic Republic. The charges have also been brought up because Tehran has allowed senior al-Qaeda members to conduct their operations from Iranian soil, according to the findings.
In addition, this Thursday’s allegations and accusations by the Treasury Department strongly indicated that some political figures in the Iranian government and its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have been covertly and tacitly backing al-Qaeda and other opposition groups in Syria’s civil war.
According to the Treasury Department, which is introducing new sanctions targeting Iranian terror links, “today the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of a key Iran-based al-Qaeda facilitator who supports al-Qaeda’s vital facilitation network in Iran, that operates there with the knowledge of Iranian authorities.”
The report also adds, “the network also uses Iran as a transit point for moving funding and foreign fighters through Turkey to support al-Qaeda-affiliated elements in Syria, including the al-Nusra Front.”
Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov— also known as Jafar al-Uzbeki and Jafar Muidinov—is characterized by the Treasury Department as an Iran-based Islamic Jihad Union facilitator. This facilitator “operates there with the knowledge of Iranian authorities,” and provides funding to al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network, along with logistical support as well.
The report has caused some confusion, primarily in the West, on how it would be possible for Iran to be supporting al-Qaeda with its other commitments in Syria? Western media, some policy analysts, politicians, scholars, and even the Treasury Department have found it difficult to offer an explanation on the possible reasons that would make Iranian leaders support al-Qaeda in Syria and in Afghanistan.
Iran’s complex game
The issue with deciphering the unclear link between Iran and al-Qaeda (or other extremist al-Qaeda linked groups such as al-Nusra and the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)), is that rational, logical analysis is mainly anchored in a binary system, whereas this situation resides in a more complex gray area.
This type of thinking has prevented many from properly analyzing Middle Eastern politics, particularly Iran’s domestic and foreign policy, with all its nuances and complicated details.
Those who are perplexed with this news, make the argument that if Iran is supporting the Assad regime, and if al-Qaeda is attempting to overthrow that regime, then Tehran cannot logically back al-Qaeda because they are on opposing sides of the conflict. Another argument comes down to religious alliances, citing that the Shiite ruling clerics in Iran are not naturally politically allied to Sunni groups.
The shortcomings of such analyses and perspectives are overlook the complicated and nuanced issues regarding Iran’s politics, rather categorizing conflicts into Sunni versus Shiite, Assad against oppositions, and so forth.
Not a bewilderment
If we take a close look at Iran’s realpolitik, its struggle for tipping the balance of power in its favor, as well as the geopolitical, geo-economic and geostrategic interests of the Islamic Republic, the notion that al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network has been operating for a while in Iranian soil with the assistance of IRGC forces, can be viewed as totally realistic.
Iran would allow and support al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network for several reasons. First of all, for the last three years— since the uprising erupted in Syria— both Tehran and Damascus have been playing a masterful political game with the United States and other Western powers by arguing that Assad’s regime is being targeted by terrorist enemies like al-Qaeda and its affiliations.
Playing the al-Qaeda card has been one of the most effective strategies utilized by the Iranian and Syrian regimes. According to several credible reports including Telegraph and Business Insider, in order to substantiate and bolster their arguments, Assad released the extremists and Iran provided them with the required platforms to continue this complex double game.
Reportedly, the al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, have been selling oil to the Assad regime in exchange for money and recruits with the assistance of Tehran.
Secondly, and more fundamentally, it is crucial to have a powerful extremist group on Iran’s side regardless of the religious affiliation of that group. From the Iranian leaders’ perspective, al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network can functions as powerful political leverage for the Islamic Republic over other countries in the region. al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network can be tacitly utilized in order to tip the balance of power in favor of Tehran.
Third, since the uprising erupted in Syria, the Islamic Republic has been considering other alternatives in case Assad’s apparatuses collapse. It is accurate to argue that Assad has been the staunchest geopolitical and geostrategic ally of Iran for decades, and it is also correct to point out that Tehran has been assisting Assad economically (with billions of dollars in credit), politically, through intelligence, advisory, and militarily.
But what matters for Tehran are power, geopolitics, its interests, regional hegemonic ambitions and the balance of power. Tehran will support Assad as long as it thinks that Assad can retain his power.
The moment that the regime collapses, Iran is likely to shift its political position and support any group that seems to come to power. From Iranian perspectives, the most powerful group among the oppositions in Syria are currently the al-Qaeda linked groups. As a result, having close ties with al-Qaeda is paramount for Iran in case Assad is overthrown. For now, keeping a relationship and supporting both al-Qaeda and Assad is political opportunism for Tehran.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar as Harvard University, is president of the International American Council and he serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington DC, Harvard scholar, and a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He is originally from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria. He has been a recipient of several scholarships and fellowship including from Oxford University, Annenberg University, University of California Santa Barbara, and Fulbright Teaching program. He served as ambassador for the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC, conducted research at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and taught at University of California Santa Barbara through Fulbright Teaching Scholarship. He can be reached at email@example.com.