The U.S. Treasury fingers Al Qaeda operating in Iran, again!
For more than a decade we have listened to those who pushed the narrative that the “secret 28 pages” of the 9/11 report would demonstrate conclusively that Saudi Arabia was behind the horrible attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We have now seen the “secret 28 pages” and we know that there is no such evidence in them, nor anything even remotely supporting such a conclusion. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may have been slow to realize the danger posed by Sunni extremists, but there is not now and never has never been any evidence to suggest it was involved with 9/11, supported 9/11 or knew about the attacks before they occurred.
In stark contrast to the continuous focus on the “secret 28 pages” has been the almost total media silence surrounding the recent U.S. Treasury designation of three individuals living and working inside Iran as high ranking Al Qaeda terrorists: Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al-Imri Al-Khalidi; Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi; and Abu Bakr Muhammed Muhammed Ghumayn. These are not minor figures, but are figures in Al Qaeda’s worldwide organization. Nor are they in hiding, in exile, or somehow have their terrorist activities restricted by Iranian authorities. They are skilled purveyors of international terror operating with impunity from inside Iran.
Al Khalidi has been described by the United States government as one of a new generation of Al Qaeda operatives. He was previously an Al Qaeda brigade commander and before that a battalion commander. In May 2015 he was reported to have participated in an Al Qaeda council meeting with other senior Al Qaeda officials to discuss the acquisition of weapons for the organization. At that time he was reportedly the head of Al Qaeda’s military commission. He is considered to be one of Al Qaeda’s most important members and is responsible for the relationship between Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.
Yisra Bayumi is also a veteran Al Qaeda member, having been in the organization since at least 2006, and has been operating out of Iran since 2014. He has responsibility for handling the formal relationship between Al Qaeda and the Iranian government and for obtaining funds for Al Qaeda operations.
Abu Bakr Ghumayn is yet another senior Al Qaeda leader who has served in financial, communications and logistical roles. Currently, he is in charge of financing and organizing of the large number of Al Qaeda members in Iran. Before being assigned to Iran he operated in Waziristan in Pakistan. Ghumayn has also served in intelligence and security capacities.
As significant as these three individuals are, the Treasury Department’s action last week in formally designating them as terrorist operatives represents only the latest in a long series of pronouncements by the federal government acknowledging the existence of an extensive Al Qaeda network inside Iran. Here are a handful of examples:
The Treasury Department noted the existence of a secret deal between Iran and Al Qaeda and identified six known Al Qaeda operatives operating inside Iran. One of them was Yasin Al Suri, a prominent Al Qaeda facilitator. At the time, David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said, “ By exposing Iran’s secret deal with Al Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.”
The State Department announced a ten million dollar reward for Al Suri who was still operating in Iran.
The State Department officially declared that Iran “allowed Al Qaeda members to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iranian territory, enabling Al Qaeda to carry funds and move facilitators and operatives to South Asia and elsewhere.”
The State Department noted that “Under the terms of the agreement between Al Qaeda and Iran… Al Qaeda must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities.” Adding, “As long as Al Qaeda abided by those terms, the Government of Iran gave the Iran-based Al Qaeda network freedom of operation and uninhibited ability to travel for extremists and their families.”
The State Department reported that Al Qaeda facilitators Muhsin Al-Fadhli and Adel Radi Saqr Al-Wahabi Al Harbi were moving fighters and money through Iran to South Asia and Syria. Both men were operating with the knowledge and permission of Iranian authorities.
Al Qaeda facilitator Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov was identified as operating inside Iran. He was reported to be providing logistical and funding support to Al Qaeda’s Iran-based network.
In short, we have known and the U.S. government has openly acknowledged for more than a decade that there is an express agreement between Iran and Al Qaeda pursuant to which, in exchange for immunity from Al Qaeda attacks, Iran grants that terrorist organization safe haven and support. That is an inconvenient fact for those, including many in the current administration, who are working overtime to create the fantasy that Iran has changed, that it is in the hands of “reformers,” and that it is now to be relied upon to play a constructive role on the world stage. But the fact is nonetheless true.
ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Sunni terrorist organizations are barbaric and must be crushed. Yet their capabilities pale in comparison to what remains the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism, the radical, virulently anti-American Islamic Republic of Iran.