Treasury Department identifies another Iran-based facilitator for al Qaeda

download (71)Long War Journal, By THOMAS JOSCELYN:

In a series of designations released today, the US Treasury Department targets “a diverse set of entities and individuals located around the world for evading US sanctions against Iran, aiding Iranian nuclear and missile proliferation, and supporting terrorism.”

One of the newly designated individuals is a part of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network.

Treasury identifies Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov (also known as Jafar al-Uzbeki and Jafar Muidinov) as an “Iran-based Islamic Jihad Union facilitator.” The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) is an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and both groups are closely allied with al Qaeda.

Sadikov “provides logistical support and funding to al Qaeda’s Iran-based network,” according to Treasury. He “serves as a key extremist smuggler based in Mashhad, Iran, near the country’s border with Afghanistan, and has provided visas and passports to numerous foreign fighters, including al Qaeda recruits, to facilitate their travel.” Sadikov has also “assisted extremists and operatives transiting Iran on their way into and out of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

IJU and IMU operatives have long operated inside Iran. In September 2010, for example, Coalition and Afghan forces captured an IMU facilitator who was supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force.

The Treasury Department identifies Sadikov as “an associate of designated al Qaeda facilitator Yasin al Suri.” He has “provided funding to al Suri.”

The Treasury and State Departments first exposed al Suri’s role as the head of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network in 2011. Afterwards, the Iranian regime reportedly detained al Suri. He was then replaced by Muhsin al Fadhli, another longtime al Qaeda operative. At some point, however, the Iranians allowed al Suri, whose real name is Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, to return to work.

Al Suri has “resumed leadership of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network after being temporarily detained there in late 2011,” Treasury reports. This confirms recent reporting on al Suri’s return to al Qaeda’s operations.

“As head al Qaeda facilitator in Iran,” Treasury explains further, “Yasin al Suri is responsible for overseeing al Qaeda efforts to transfer experienced operatives and leaders from Pakistan to Syria, organizing and maintaining routes by which new recruits can travel to Syria via Turkey, and assisting in the movement of al Qaeda external operatives to the West.”

Although none of these “external operatives” have been named by the US government, at least two international terrorist plots have been connected to al Qaeda’s Iran-based network. Both al Qaeda’s planned 2010 Mumbai-style attacks in Europe and a foiled plot to derail a train running from New York City to Toronto in 2013 were directly tied to al Qaeda operatives in Iran. [See LWJ article, Report: Senior al Qaeda facilitator ‘back on the street’ in Iran.]

“Al Qaeda’s network in Iran has facilitated the transfer of funds from Gulf-based donors to al Qaeda core and other affiliated elements, including the al Nusrah Front in Syria,” Treasury’s designation reads. “The Iran based al Qaeda network has also leveraged an extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.”

The most curious aspect of this relationship is that the Iranians allow al Qaeda operatives to support the Al Nusrah Front from Iranian soil. Iran and Al Nusrah are currently on opposite sides of the war in Syria, as Iran wants to preserve Bashar al Assad’s regime while Al Nusrah wants to destroy it.

Still, for unknown reasons, the Iranians are allowing al Suri and his operatives to support Al Nusrah. Treasury notes that al Suri’s Iran-based network “operates there with the knowledge of Iranian authorities.”

Treasury’s designation today is the latest to take aim at the relationship between Iran and al Qaeda. In July 2011, Treasury designated al Suri and other members of his network, saying that Iran had a “secret deal” with al Qaeda. In February 2012, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was designated for, among other things, supporting al Qaeda. And in October 2012, an additional member of al Qaeda’s network in Iran was designated. The State Department has also exposed the relationship on multiple occasions.

Iran helping Al Qaeda transfer Sunni fighters to Syria:

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Egypt Pursues Hezbollah

Hezbollah supporters at a rally in Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)

Hezbollah supporters at a rally in Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)

By Clare Lopez

Sunnis and Shi’ites are literally at each others’ throats these days in Syria, much as they have been for over 1300 years of Islamic fitna, but elsewhere rapprochement may be the word of the day. The Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon was quoted in a December 29, 2012 Daily Caller interview talking about pursuing a relationship with Hezbolllah, Iran’s Shi’ite terror proxy.

Calling Hezbolllah a “real political and military force” on the ground in Lebanon,” Ashraf Hamdy, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s envoy to Beirut, provided the latest signal that a new Cairo-Tehran axis of jihad may be taking shape.

Of course, contrary to what sometimes passes for conventional “wisdom” among some so-called “national security experts,” this would hardly be the first time that Sunnis and Shi’ites have found common cause based on pan-Islamic ideology. As Mehdi Khalaji, senior fellow at the Washington Institute, pointed out in a remarkable 2009 essay, “Iran has maintained informal ties to the Muslim Brotherhood for many years.”

The Ayatollah Khomeini was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year (seen here on the January 7, 1980 cover of the magagzine).

The Ayatollah Khomeini was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year (seen here on the January 7, 1980 cover of the magagzine).

The most visible cross-sectarian relationship may be the mullahs’ longstanding support for HAMAS, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1987. Personal relationships among Brotherhood members who later would found some of the most savage of all Islamic terrorist organizations — such as Al-Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad — and Shi’ite cadres who would become the Ayatollah Khomeini’s anti-Shah shock troops likely began in the Beka’a Valley in the 1970s when the Soviet KGB was running terror training camps for an array of the world’s militants.

Indeed, the Iranian regime’s operational collaboration with Al-Qaeda in the attacks of 9/11 demonstrably can be traced back to those early relationships, later solidified at the Khartoum Jihad Jamboree gatherings of the early 1990s that were co-sponsored by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his sometime collaborator, Hassan al-Turabi, a key Sudanese Brotherhood figure.

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (both found safehaven in Sudan in those years and were introduced while there to Iranian regime leadership figures including then-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, intelligence chief Ali Fallahian and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohsen Reza’i.

The intellectual affinity between Iranian Shi’ite clerics such as the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and pivotal Brotherhood theoreticians such as Sayyed Qutb rests on the conviction that intra-Islamic sectarian differences must be set aside so that Muslims may form a united front to wage jihad against Christians, Jews, the West in general and, ultimately, the entire Dar al-Harb (non-Muslim world).

Hassan al-Banna2As elaborated by Mehdi Khalaji (here) and Tom Joscelyn (here), it was a young Iranian cleric named Nawab Safawi who, in the early 1950s, introduced the Ayatollah Khomeini to the pan-Islamic, jihadist ideology of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Perhaps equally little known is the scholastic course that brought current Supreme Leader Khamenei to translate two of Qutb’s books, Al-Mustaqbal li hadha al-Din (The Future of this Religion) and Al-Islam wa Mushkelat al-Hadharah (Islam and the Problems of Civilization).

The 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by Islamic jihadis and the subsequent clamp-down on the Brotherhood by Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, temporarily put a damper on overt expressions of Khomeinist-Brotherhood mutual admiration, but by 2009, former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi Akef, openly asserted that “The Muslim Brotherhood supports the ideas and thoughts of the founder of the Islamic  Republic.”

The Iranian regime was quick to claim an inspirational role once the 2011 Al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood revolutions broke out, although the Ikhwan did not immediately (or publicly) embrace the overture.

It is true that Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran did capture the imagination of the entire Muslim world, both Shi’ite and Sunni, and nowhere more enthusiastically than among Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and two of its offshoots, Omar Abdel-Rahman’s Gama’at Islamiyya and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad, both later to become founding members of Al-Qaeda.

But the Shi’ite-Sunni face-off in Syria that began in 2011, followed by the HAMAS departure from longtime headquarters in Damascus, brought Islam’s perennial sectarian strife back to the front pages, while tending to obscure the simultaneous but less visible developing potential for a diplomatic thaw between Iran and Egypt.

Now, however, with the Brotherhood in firm control of Egypt and the three-decades-old peace treaty with Israel no longer a given, indicators like Ambassador Hamdy’s remarks about Hezbolllah may take on a more ominous cast.

A reported August 2012 meeting between the then-head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, Maj. Gen. Murad Muwafi, and a senior official of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was followed by a August 22 statement from Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, that indicated Egypt and Iran are moving towards restoring diplomatic relations.

Salehi said that Iran seeks ties of “friendship and brotherhood” with Cairo. Then, at the late August 2012 Non-Aligned meeting in Tehran, Morsi and his Iranian host, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, exchanged pledges as “strategic allies” and discussed enhanced bilateral cooperation in the areas of “science and technology.”

Egypt scholar Raymond Stock noted in a stunning September 7, 2012 Gatestone Institute essay that such cooperation could possibly include an Iranian offer to share nuclear technology with Morsi’s Brotherhood regime. Coupled with statements from Muslim Brotherhood and military figures about an Egyptian desire to acquire a “nuclear weapon,” the Iranian model of revolution, terror and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) looks increasingly likely to metastasize to the Arab heart of the Islamic Middle East.

The advantages of rapprochement with Egypt for Iran, which is currently facing crushing financial sanctions, a grueling and probably losing struggle to shore up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, plus at least some measure of international opprobrium over its nuclear weapons program, are obvious.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).



Iran’s Ahmadinejad to attend Syria summit in Saudi Arabia – report


DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend a summit of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia expected to focus on Syria, Iranian media said on Monday, as tensions between Tehran and Riyadh run high over their opposing stances on regional uprisings.

The extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) is to be held in Mecca next week.

“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be present at this summit at the invitation of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia,” Mohammad Reza Forghani, the director of international affairs in Ahmadinejad’s office, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Saudi Arabia’s Sunni leaders have accused predominantly Shi’ite Iran of stoking what they see as sectarian unrest in the region. Iran has expressed support for Shi’ite-led protests in Bahrain against the ruling Sunni Al Khalifa family, allies of Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said recently the OIC summit should focus on the unrest in Bahrain, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.

The two regional powers also disagree on the uprising in Syria, where predominantly Sunni rebels are fighting to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite power base is an offshoot of Shi’ism.

Iran has steadfastly supported Assad’s efforts to suppress the rebellion, and has accused Western powers and countries in the region of encouraging chaos in Syria by sending fighters and arms there.

Senior Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Sunday that the summit in Saudi Arabia would be unlikely to yield any results given Riyadh’s “hostile stances” toward Syria, Iranian media reported.

Ahmadinejad made his first official trip to Saudi Arabia in March 2007, when he and King Abdullah agreed to fight the spread of sectarian strife.



U.S. Iran Lobby Rallies to Muslim Brotherhood

by: Clare Lopez

Should anyone still be laboring under the impression that sectarian differences invariably keep Sunni and Shi’ite jihadis from cooperating, notice what is happening, not in the Middle East, but right here at home.

When five courageous congressional representatives recently wrote letters to the Inspectors General of the Office of the Director of National Security (ODNI) and the Departments of Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DoJ), and State (DoS), requesting an investigation into the extent of Muslim Brotherhood influence within the U.S. government, they were met with a barrage of criticism from expected quarters: Muslim Brotherhood affiliates and front groups, leftist liberals who support them and even conservative voices that mostly just failed to read the letters.

What might not have been expected was condemnation from figures more commonly associated in Washington policy circles with the Iran Lobby than the Muslim Brotherhood. An opinion piece published in the Huffington post on Aug.1 by an off-beat blogger named Robert Naiman seems to span the Sunni-Shi’ite divide in its call for Representative Michele Bachmann to be removed from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy

Attached to Naiman’s hackneyed attempt to label the Congressional letters a “conspiracy theory” because they take seriously the Muslim Brotherhood’s own assertions about “destroying the Western civilization from within,” is a letter from a motley collection of “former U.S. officials, NGO leaders, and academics.”

While it comes as no surprise that a small clutch of former U.S. government officials greets the possibility of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into American policy making circles with untroubled equanimity, that Iranian regime stalwarts Stephen Kinzer, Juan Cole, Ervand Abrahamian, and Gareth Porter have signed on together with the Sunni defense crowd deserves mention. While Naiman himself seems to have studied economics and mathematics at some point, his online nattering in defense of the Iranian regime’s right to do pretty much whatever it wants with its nuclear weapons program perhaps drew their attention. In any case, the presence of these four Iran Lobby types among the letters’ overall 18 signatories makes quite a respectable showing for the Shi’ite contingent.

Kinzer, a former New York Times reporter and author, was first noted for his Iran Lobby credentials in this writer’s 2009 Center for Security Policy paper, “Rise of the Iran Lobby.” Kinzer thinks Khomeinist Iran is just the sort of Middle East country the U.S. should partner with and, not much of an Islamic history buff, claims the U.S. is responsible for “producing a region that is a pit of violence and hatred and terror and war.”

Similarly, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole blogs often to advise against the most serious measures to bring Tehran into compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions and its own obligations as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This may have something to do with Cole’s antisemitic views about the State of Israel and something he calls “Zionofascism.”

Ervand Abrahamian is an Iranian-born Armenian scholar and author who keeps company with the likes of Iran Lobby founder, Trita Parsi, (president of the National Iranian American Council – NIAC) and fellow cast members of the 2011 anti-American film, “American Coup,” including Kinzer, Parsi, and Gary Sick, a regime defender and former National Security Council staffer now at Columbia University. Gareth Porter, another staunch supporter of the mullahs’ regime, told the Iranian media outlet, Press TV, that U.S. sanctions against Iran “were forced on it by the Israeli lobby.”

Michael Ledeen

So, what to make of these Muslim Brotherhood cheerleaders from the Shi’ite side of the great Islamic schism? Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, provides a brilliant explanation in the Summer 2012 issue of the “Claremont Review of Books” with his essay entitled, “The New War Against America.”

Ledeen writes of a “global alliance” against America that includes all of the Dar al-Islam, both Sunni and Shi’a, in opportunistic collusion with “radical secular leftists.”

The visceral enmity of Iran is clearly visible: This is a regime that has been at war with the U.S. for over 33 yrs., leads the terror troika with al-Qa’eda and Hizballah that a U.S. Federal District judge found jointly responsible for the attacks of 9/11, continues to back Iraqi and Taliban fighters who kill Americans, forges partnerships with tyrants from North Korea and Syria to Venezuela, and develops nuclear weapons to threaten Israelis with genocide and the U.S. with blackmail.

Yet, successive U.S. administrations repeatedly give Iran a pass, seek its cooperation in endless negotiations and fail to defend our national security interests. Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood that Representatives Bachman, Franks, Gohmert, Rooney and Westmoreland want investigated has been completely open about its intentions to replace secular governments everywhere with strict Islamic law (sharia) through the waging of jihad.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).