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Iran, godfather of many terror groups

Godfather, Iran, Terrorism, Al Qaeda

Counterterrorism

Iran, godfather of many terror groups

Iran has emerged into the godfather of global terrorism.

Writing in Arab News, Iranian-American political scientist Dr. Majid Refizadeh said, “Iran was the godfather of many terror groups across the region, including Al-Qaeda. It is incumbent on the international community, and particularly the next US administration [Biden administration], to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its funding, arming and empowering of one of the most dangerous groups in the world”.

Dr. Refizadeh said, Al Qaeda … could help accomplish Iran’s three main revolutionary aims: Anti-Americanism, undermining Saudi Arabia’s interests in the region, and destabilizing the Middle East so that Tehran could exploit the chaos and instability.

He further said: “Some might have bought the false narrative – buttressed by Tehran regime, its agents and some media outlets – that Al-Qaeda and Tehran are enemies because the former is Sunni and the latter is Shiite. But I think more attention should be paid to the three-decade-long relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime”.

It may be mentioned here that the Trump administration has publicly accused the Iranian regime of having ties with Al-Qaeda. Mike Pompeo has also revealed the link using recently declassified intelligence material during a speech to the National Press Club in Washington DC.

Pompeo’s revelation was extremely vital as this was the first time a US secretary of state had provided evidence of the links between the Tehran regime and Al-Qaeda. The intelligence included information on the assassination of Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Mohammad Al-Masri, in Tehran on August 7 last year.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, Iranian regime was under extreme pressure, which has resulted in Tehran’s cutting-down its defense and propaganda budget significantly. But now, with less than a week left in office, although Trump administration has publicly accused the Iranian regime of having ties with Al-Qaeda terrorist outfit, there is serious doubt about the future as the Biden administration, particular President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have repeatedly voiced in favor of re-entering the nuclear deal with Iran, which may lead to lifting of sanctions, thus returning the financial privilege to Tehran in re-boosting its patronization of terror throughout the world. Lifting of sanctions on Iran can only contribute in escalation of Tehran’s notoriety in the Middle East and the world, while it would also grant opportunity to Iran in finally emerging as a dangerous and cruel Shiite nuclear nation.

Until Mike Pompeo’s discloser of Iran’s patronization of Al-Qaeda, authorities in Tehran had attempted to cover up Al-Masri’s death, apparently because it would only expose Iran’s Al-Qaeda connection.

According to intelligence reports, Al-Masri was most likely the successor of Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Chronology of Iran’s relations with Al-Qaeda:

  • 1992-1996 Iranian regime emissary Sheikh Nomani reportedly met Khartoum-based Al-Qaeda leadership under the aegis of Sudan’s National Islamic Front.
  • 1996-2000 Secret understanding between Osama bin Laden and Tehran said to facilitate travel for Al-Qaeda leaders through Iran to Afghanistan.
  • 1998 Al-Qaeda used Iran/Hezbollah tactics in August to bomb US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 223 people and wounding thousands more.
  • 2000 Iran, along with Sudan, accused of liability in October bombing of USS Cole in Yemen by a US federal judge, nearly four years after the loss of 17 sailors in the attack.
  • 2001 Allegations of transit of Al-Qaeda members in and out of Afghanistan through Iranian territory in lead-up to Sept. 9 terror attacks backed up by strong evidence provided in subsequent US trial.
  • 2001-2004 Al-Qaeda leaders reportedly received safe harbor in Iran after escaping from Tora Bora and other hideouts in Afghanistan that were bombed by US forces in Oct. 2001.
  • 2001-2010 Al-Qaeda operatives, including Saif Al-Adel, Saad bin Laden, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullahi and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, took up residence in Iran, ostensibly under “house arrest.”
  • 2011 The US formally accused Iran of forging a pact enabling Al-Qaeda to move money, arms and fighters to its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • 2015 Iran reportedly released five senior Al-Qaeda members as part of a prisoner swap with group’s branch in Yemen, which was holding an Iranian diplomat.
  • 2015-2016 The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a tranche of declassified documents shedding light on the relationship between Al-Qaeda and Iran.
  • 2018 UN panel of experts suggested that Al-Qaeda leaders in Iran had grown more prominent.
  • 2020 Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah reportedly slain in Tehran on Aug. 7 along with his daughter by Israeli agents acting for the US.
  • • 2021 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces US$7 million reward for information on Muhammad Abbatay, aka Abd Al-Rahman Al-Maghrebi, described as Iran-based Al-Qaeda leader.

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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