July 16, 2007

Al Qaeda in Iran

By Noah Pollak

It is long past time that one important piece of fantastical rubbish be finally sent on its way: this is the idea that Islamists maintain some kind of fastidious ethnic and theological separatism when it comes to who they're willing to work with on killing people. The co-option of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Sunni Arab) by Iran (Shia Persian) is one piece of reality that intrudes on this comforting notion; so is the Iran-Syria alliance, along with the reality of Iranian support for both Shia and Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

A final nail in the coffin comes today from Eli Lake, the New York Sun's talented national security reporter (and good friend). Eli's scoop is about the National Intelligence Estimate, an unclassified summary of which will be released today, but whose classified final working draft concludes that:

One of two known Al Qaeda leadership councils meets regularly in eastern Iran, where the American intelligence community believes dozens of senior Al Qaeda leaders have reconstituted a good part of the terror conglomerate's senior leadership structure.

Iranian hospitality toward Al Qaeda is not a new story — but what is new is the apparent fact that one of two Qaeda leadership councils meets in Iran, and with the complicity of the regime. As Eli notes:

An intelligence official sympathetic to the view that it is a matter of Iranian policy to cooperate with Al Qaeda disputed the CIA and State Department view that the Quds Force is operating as a rogue force. “It is just impossible to believe that what the Quds Force does with Al Qaeda does not represent a decision of the government,” the official, who asked not to be identified, said. “It's a bit like saying the directorate of operations for the CIA is not really carrying out U.S. policy.”

Stories like these reinforce another very basic idea: terrorism has a return address.

Posted by Noah Pollak at July 16, 2007 10:20 PM
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