The joint Iran and al-Qaida operation declares war

Expert: Tehran has more in common with the terror group than the international community.

Iranian military parade 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
Iranian military parade 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
BERLIN – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comparison between al-Qaida and Iran during his September 27 address to the UN has garnered greater urgency since the US Treasury department on Thursday put a price on the head of Tehran-backed al-Qaida terror operatives.
“Some say a nuclear armed Iran would stabilize the Middle East. Yeah, right. That's like a saying a nuclear armed al-Qaida would usher in world peace,” Netanyahu said at the UN in New York.
The fiercely anti-Western and anti-Israel systems of the Islamic Republic and al-Qaida are no longer a matter of a mere parallel, but rather an increasingly potent joint-operation that seeks to destabilize the Middle East, and to murder Western, particularly US, forces in the Pakistan/Afghanistan war theaters as well as in Iraq.
David S. Cohen, the US under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, announced on Thursday a combined reward of $12 million for the capture of two Iran-sponsored and -based terrorists – Muhsin al-Fadhli and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi.
“Today’s action, which builds on our action from July 2011, further exposes al- Qaida’s critically important Iran-based funding and facilitation network,” Cohen said.
“We will continue targeting this crucial source of al- Qaida’s funding and support, as well as highlight Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.”
In an email to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Thomas Joscelyn, the leading expert on the role of al-Qaida in Iran, wrote, “From Israel’s perspective, it says a lot about its principal enemy that Iran has more in common with al- Qaida than [with] the international community.”
Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, added, “The Treasury Department makes it clear that Iran continues to support al-Qaida despite international pressure. The US government has officially recognized Iran’s complicity in al-Qaida’s terrorism on at least five occasions since July 2011. Three times the US government has designated the Iranian government as a terrorist sponsor for its collusion with al- Qaida.”
Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer with the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, who has penned articles with Joscelyn over the years on the longstanding relationship between al-Qaida and Iran, wrote on his Twitter micro blog on Saturday, “Deeply skeptical of any direct talks between Iran-US. For a decade Iranian regime facilitated killing of US troops in Iraq/Afghanistan.”
He further noted, “Beyond that, Iranian regime harbored senior al-Qaida leadership & facilitated their operations.
The regime itself is the problem.”
Hayes zooms in on the Iranian regime’s intrinsic jingoism and hostility toward the West. The big question mark over Barack Obama’s policy is whether his administration — should he prevail in the November election – will move from targeted sanctions of merged al-Qaida-Iranian operations to announcing that Tehran’s activity is a declaration of war against the United States.
According to the Treasury Department statement from last week, “Fadhli was considered an al-Qaida leader in the Gulf and provided support to Iraq-based fighters for attacks against US and multinational forces... including the attacks on the French ship MV Limburg and against US Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait, [both in October 2002].”
The Treasury noted that Harbi serves as the deputy to Fadhli and “facilitates the travel of extremists to Afghanistan or Iraq via Iran on behalf of al-Qaida, and is believed to have sought funds to support al-Qaida attacks.”
Compounding Iran’s joint operations against US soldiers are terror attacks aimed at foreign diplomats on US soil, including Israeli and Saudi officials. Just last week, Manssor Arbabsiar, an American- Iranian, pleaded guilty for acting as an agent of Iran’s regime in the US with the aim of assassinating the Saudi ambassador at a Washington restaurant.
Writing for the conservative website The Washington Free Beacon last week, Bill Gertz, a veteran foreign affairs journalist, documented the mixed messages that Obama was sending about al-Qaida. Gertz wrote that Obama told supporters during a Manchester, New Hampshire, campaign speech that al-Qaida is “on the path to defeat.” Yet “during a campaign speech in Ohio this week, Obama left out all references to al-Qaida’s decline.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney qualified Obama’s remarks: “Our efforts against al-Qaida have inarguably led to success and progress, but the work is not yet done.”
The growing body of evidence shows that al-Qaida and the Islamic Republic are mirror images of each other and continue to flourish as agents of terror. With the exceptions of counter-terrorism experts at the US Treasury Department and a handful of media and think tank experts, the increasingly powerful alliance between al-Qaida and Iran has not been fully grasped by the security and media establishments.
The writer is a European affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post and a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.