Democrats in the US Senate this week blocked a vote on the Iran deal for the third time.
The most remarkable aspect of this US surrender to Iran is that the Iranian regime is not some hypothetical threat. It has been perpetrating acts of war against Western interests for more than three decades – including playing a key role in the 9/11 attacks on America.
That’s not just my opinion. It’s the view of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. In a judgment that has received virtually no attention, federal Judge George B. Daniels found in December 2011 that Iran, with the participation of its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was directly and heavily involved in the 9/11 atrocities.
This was previously suspected. The 9/11 Commission, having been presented with last-minute evidence from National Security Agency intercepts, found “strong evidence” that Iran had enabled al-Qaida members, including some of the future 9/11 hijackers, to travel in and out of Afghanistan before 9/11. In its 2004 report, it concluded: “We believe this topic requires further investigation by the US government.”
The US government didn’t take up the suggestion.
But some of the families of the 9/11 victims sought to enforce a measure of justice in the New York court against the atrocities’ perpetrators.
In 2011, Daniels agreed that Iran, Khamenei, former Iranian president Ali Rafsanjani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS), Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah and various Iranian government departments, government-owned companies and the central bank, had all provided direct and material aid and support to al-Qaida in carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
The judge ruled that these should all pay the 47 plaintiffs more than $7 billion in damages.
None paid up, causing another judge last year to order the seizure of a $500 million Manhattan tower block owned by Iran in order to distribute the property’s assets to the plaintiffs.
The ruling by Daniels upheld evidence from 10 experts, including three former 9/11 commission staff members, and sworn testimony from three Iranian defectors who had been operatives of the Revolutionary Guards and the MOIS.
One of these three, Abolghasem Mesbahi, who had been in charge of spying operations in western Europe, was said in the ruling to have testified in numerous prosecutions of Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists and to be “highly reliable and credible.”
Mesbahi’s evidence was incendiary. He had been part of a Revolutionary Guards-MOIS task force that designed contingency plans for unconventional warfare against the US.
These were aimed at breaking the American economy, crippling or disheartening the US, and disrupting the American social, military and political order – all without the risk of a head-to-head confrontation which Iran knew it would lose.
This group devised a scheme to crash hijacked Boeing 747s into the World Trade Center, the White House and the Pentagon.
The plan’s code name was “Shaitan dar Atash” (“Satan in flames”).
The four aircraft hijacked by the 9/11 terrorists were Boeing 757 and 767s. Due to US trade sanctions, Iran has never possessed Boeing 757 or 767 aircraft. In 2000, said Mesbahi, Iran used front companies to obtain a Boeing 757-767-777 flight simulator which it hid at a secret site and where Mesbahi believed the 9/11 terrorists were trained.
Falling out of favor with regime hardliners, Mesbahi went into hiding in Germany where he was placed on a witness protection program. He remained in touch with trusted Iranian friends who were helping protect his life. During the weeks before 9/11, Mesbahi received three coded messages from a source inside Iran’s government, indicating that Shaitan dar Atash had been activated.
He tried repeatedly to alert German security officials. They didn’t believe him.
The Daniels ruling also directly implicated Khamenei in the 9/11 plot. It stated that he formed a special intelligence apparatus under his direct control engaged in the planning, support and direction of terrorism. A May 14, 2001 memorandum from the overseer of this apparatus directly connected Iran to an impending major attack on the US.
To ensure Iran’s involvement was concealed, Khamenei instructed intelligence operatives that, while expanding collaboration between Hezbollah and al-Qaida, they must restrict communications to existing contacts with al-Qaida’s second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri and Imad Mughniyeh – Hezbollah’s terrorism chief and agent of Iran, arguably the most formidable terrorist the world has ever seen until his 2008 assassination, and now revealed in this court ruling as a key organizer of the 9/11 attacks.
Despite the divide between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, the ruling notes that they are ruthlessly pragmatic in making short term alliances against common enemies. In the early 1990s, the Iranian regime and Sudan’s Sunni leader Hassan al Turabi opened a united Shi’ite-Sunni front against the US and the west. In 1993, Osama bin Laden and al Zawahiri met Mughniyeh and Iranian officials in Khartoum. It was Mughniyeh, the ruling agrees, who turned bin Laden into an accomplished terrorist.
Extensive cooperation in major global terrorist activities continued, including the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia and the 1998 East Africa US embassy bombings. In 2000, the year in which al-Qaida was bombing the USS Cole, a US Defense Intelligence Agency analyst was alerting his superiors to a web of connections he had uncovered between al-Qaida, the Iranian intelligence agencies controlled by Khamenei and other terrorist groups.
And around that very same time, Iran was facilitating the movement of the 9/11 hijackers in and out of Afghanistan – described in the ruling as “a specific terrorist travel operation” with unstamped passports and safe passage to Hezbollah contacts.
Evidence to the court revealed that a “senior” Hezbollah operative who was known to have visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there – and who was on the same November 2000 flight to Beirut as one of the 9/11 hijackers – was none other than Mughniyeh. It was he who organized the hijackers’ travel, obtained their passports and visas and oversaw the 9/11 operation’s security.
The ruling handed down in December 2011 should have been a game-changer. It is on the website of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York under “rulings of special interest.” Read it for yourself, and then wonder why no one in the US government has acknowledged it.
Every Democrat who is either supporting the Iran deal or refusing to allow Congress to even discuss it should publicly be held responsible by name for gifting $150 billion in unblocked revenue to the regime which played a key role in the 9/11 attacks on their country – and now threatens it openly with repeat attacks. And that includes the president of the United States.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).