While the folks at Think Progress deny the growing links between Iran and al Qaeda, more evidence of the terror network’s collaboration with the regime in Tehran emerged just before Christmas when the State and Treasury Departments put out a bounty for an al Qaeda leader operating in Iran under a secret agreement with Iran.
As I pointed out earlier this month, Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil was designated by the Treasury Department earlier this year as the leader of an al Qaeda network operating in Iran with the help and protection of the Iranian regime. Now, Josh Rogin at The Cable reports that the U.S. government has offered $10 million through the Rewards for Justice program for information leading to the death or capture of Khalil (a.k.a. Yasin al-Suri):
According to two U.S. officials who briefed reporters today, [Suri] stands at the center of the link between the Iranian government and al Qaeda… “From his sanctuary inside Iran, he has moved terrorist recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has also arranged for the release of al Qaeda operatives from Iranian prisons and their transfer to Pakistan. And he has funneled significant amounts of money through Iran to AQ leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Robert A. Hartung, assistant director for threat investigations and analysis at State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security…. “We have reliable information indicating that there is an agreement between the Iranian government and this al Qaeda network [led by Suri],” said Eytan Fisch, Treasury’s assistant director of terrorism and financial intelligence.
This is the second time in the past six months that the Obama administration has taken action to highlight the links between al Qaeda and Iran. And it comes on the heels of a federal court ruling earlier this month which found that Iran was responsible for the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the bombings would not have been possible without “direct assistance” from Tehran. “The government of Iran,” Judge John D. Bates wrote in his 45-page decision, “aided, abetted, and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama Bin Laden, and al Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs…. Prior to their meetings with Iranian officials and agents Bin Laden and al Qaeda did not possess the technical expertise required to carry out the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.”
Considering the fact that the Shiite regime in Tehran and the Sunni terrorist network have already collaborated to attack the United States, their growing cooperation is an ominous sign. If Iran was willing to give al Qaeda the means to destroy two American embassies, what kind of assistance might a nuclear Iran be willing to provide them?