by: Ryan Mauro
On October 18, The Obama Administration again confirmed that the Shi’ite Iranian regime is working with the Sunni-Salafist Al-Qaeda terrorist group when the Treasury Department blacklistedtwo Al-Qaeda leaders operating in Iran. In July 2011, the administration revealed that Iran had struck a “secret deal” with Al-Qaeda, blowing apart the myth that the hostility between Sunni and Shi’ite Islamists precludes them from helping each other fight a common enemy.
The Treasury Department sanctioned two Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran: Muhsin al-Fadhil, the leader of the network there, and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi. David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, describes the Iran-based network as “critically important” to Al-Qaeda operations and he stated that Iran permits its existence. The Obama Administration has repeatedly stated that Iran and Al-Qaeda work together, as chronicled by the Long War Journal.
This network has been in Iran since at least 2005, formerly under the leadership of Yasin al-Sura, with funding coming from supporters in Kuwait and Qatar. The Obama Administration disclosed the “secret deal” in July 2011. Al-Qaeda agreed not to attack Iran or to recruit operatives within the country, but it is free to use Iranian territory to move personnel and money as long as the regime is kept abreast of the activity. Strangely, this activity includes supporting Al-Qaeda elements in Syria, which are trying to topple Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, an Iranian ally.
Al-Fadhil became the leader of the network in late 2011. He began working with Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran in 2009 and was arrested by the regime. Apparently, a partnership grew while he was locked up because he took over the network shortly after he was let loose. He previously worked for Al-Qaeda in Iraq and took part in attacks on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and a French oil tanker in October 2002.
Al-Harbi oversees the movement of Al-Qaeda operatives to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has helped Al-Qaeda with its Internet-based operations.
The Obama Administration’s accusations means there is bi-partisan agreement that the Iranian regime is sponsoring Al-Qaeda, as contradictory as it may seem. The Iranian regime helps Al-Qaeda operations in Iraq, even though these operations include massacring Shi’ites and destabilizing the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government that is increasingly close to Iran. The regime also helps Al-Qaeda operatives that are fighting against Iran’s ally in Syria. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but much of what Islamists do doesn’t make sense to Westerners.
The 9/11 Commission Report confirms that Iran and Al-Qaeda have had a relationship since late 1991 or early 1992 when its representatives began meeting in Sudan. It didn’t take long for senior Al-Qaeda operatives to go to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps operate, to learn how to make better bombs. In the fall of 1993, another group of Al-Qaeda terrorists went there to learn about explosives, intelligence and security. Osama Bin Laden was especially keen to learn how the Iranians carried out truck bombings.
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Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org’s National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.