If the United
States and its allies in the War on Terror don't take firm action
against Iranian support to al Qaeda, the price in blood and treasure
attributable to Osama bin Laden's killers — in Iraq and
elsewhere — will continue to soar.
it's been long forgotten that Iran became home to some of al Qaeda's
most wanted after the fall 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Tehran
admitted as much, claiming that al Qaeda operatives were under
"house arrest" and would be tried.
nothing of the sort happened . . .
So al Qaeda
"refugees" from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, North
Africa and Europe — including senior military commander
Saif al Adel, three of Osama's sons and spokesman Sulaiman Abu
Ghaith — now operate freely from Iran.
just last week, the German monthly magazine Cicero, citing Western
intelligence sources, claimed that as many as 25 al Qaeda thugs
are living in Iran under the protection of the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Corps (IRGC).
a "top-ranking" Western intelligence official saying,
"This is not incarceration or house arrest. They [al Qaeda
members] can move around as they please." The IRGC even provides
logistics help and training to al Qaeda.
mention which al Qaeda operations Iran is supporting, but there's
little doubt that Tehran is aiding the terror in Iraq, where there
are more and more Iranian "fingerprints" on insurgent/terrorist
al Qaeda have been tight for some time. The 9/11 Commission said
that al Qaeda passed freely though Iran before 9/11, including
at least eight of the 14 "muscle" hijackers that commandeered
the four ill-fated planes. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000,
Iranian officials approached al Qaeda to propose a partnership
for future anti-U.S. attacks. (Osama nixed the offer for fear
of alienating Saudi supporters.)
also collaborated with Iran in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar
Towers in Saudi Arabia. And U.S. intercepts caught al Qaeda operatives
in Iran communicating with terrorists in Saudi Arabia before the
2003 attacks there.
conventional wisdom has bin Laden somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistani
border, there have also been rumors that he and his deputy, Ayman
al-Zawahiri, are under Iran's protection.
Iran and al Qaeda aren't natural allies. Iran is Persian/Shia,
while al Qaeda is Arab/Sunni. But, for the moment, Iran and al
Qaeda seem to be looking beyond this and toward a common goal
— global Islamic rule and American failure in Iraq.
to cough up Saif al Adel, al Qaeda's No. 3, would be a major coup.
The former Egyptian Special Forces colonel was involved in attacking
U.S. forces in Mogadishu (1993) and the U.S. embassies in Kenya/Tanzania
(1998). He was also a player in the Cole assault, trained 9/11
hijackers, orchestrated Saudi attacks and acts as an al Qaeda-Hezbollah
liaison. He's surely involved in supporting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's
thugs in Iraq.
And not addressing
the Iran-al Qaeda axis could allow Iran to become al Qaeda's "new
Afghanistan" — a base where Osama's henchmen could
raise funds, recruit/train new footsoldiers and plan/direct attacks.
calls for Iran to turn over al Qaeda members to their countries
of origin have gone nowhere. It's time to stop giving Tehran a
economic sanctions against Iran are long overdue. Iran's economy
has been on the skids for a while; Tehran would feel the pain
if the United Nations — or simply its major trading partners,
such as Germany, France and Italy — put the squeeze on.
of Tehran's high-pitched squeals whenever economic sanctions are
even mentioned — usually over its nuclear (weapons) program
— seems to indicate that these measures are something the
mullahs would rather avoid.
guarantee that sanctions will get Tehran to swear off its terrorist
ways. But, because Iran's economy is so centralized, trade gives
the mullahs pocket change to cause trouble at home and across