No, Virginia, Iran isn’t in Bed with Al-Qaeda (Abbotabad Trove)

The al-Qaeda documents released by West Point’s Center for Combatting Terrorism (which needs to be better funded by Congress) show that the whole warmonger meme that Iran and al-Qaeda are in bed is a complete crock. Ali Gharib at Think Progress shows that the flurry of Weekly Standard articles alleging al-Qaeda-Iran links in recent months is fairly firmly refuted by the actual documentary record.

Mark Hosenball at Reuters has more on the tense relationship of the mostly Wahhabi al-Qaeda with Shiite Iran.

The [pdf] West Point Center writes,

References to Iran show that the relationship is not one of alliance, but of indirectand unpleasant negotiations over the release of detained jihadis and theirfamilies, including members of Bin Ladin’s family. The detention of prominental-Qa`ida members seems to have sparked a campaign of threats, taking hostagesand indirect negotiations between al-Qa`ida and Iran that have been drawn out for years and may still be ongoing.

In the first Arabic letter in the batch, Bin Laden notes that some al-Qaeda members were thinking of going to Iran, apparently in hopes of negotiating the release of their colleagues held by that country. Bin Laden slaps the idea down: “I don’t see Iran as appropriate.” He goes on to warn that if they are going to live in Pakistan instead, they should try to avoid areas prone to flooding. So the mighty flooding of the Indus is just about on the same level of undesirability as being in Iran.

The documents show that Bin Laden did not like or trust Iran, that al-Qaeda members who fled to Iran were surprised when they were rounded up and arrested by Iranian authorities, that they were dismayed when Iran started sending them back to their home countries, and that they felt that Iran often lied to them. They called Shiites “rawafid,” a nasty epithet used by Sunnis who don’t like Shiites very much.

They also show that sometimes al-Qaeda could get Iran to release its members, but hardly because they both hate the US and Israel. It was by mafia-like tactics such as kidnapping and threatening Iranian diplomatic personnel abroad (e.g. the consul at Peshawar) that al-Qaeda got a tiny bit of leverage over Tehran.

It isn’t just recently that a completely implausible cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran was alleged. Among the first books about al-Qaeda was that of Yosef Bodansky, an Israeli security studies specialist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004. His 1999 book on Usama Bin Laden manages to blame al-Qaeda at some points on both Iran and Iraq (neither is actually implicated). It seems to me fairly obvious that Bodansky is an Israel-firster propagandist and that AIPAC circles managed to plant him in an extremely influential position in Congress from which he could spin his fantasies. He clearly worked for US wars on both Iraq and Iran by attempting to hang Bin Laden around their necks.

Clifford May, former journalist and then policy figure promoting Neoconservatism, right wing Israeli interests, and American wars in the Middle East, also has made unfounded and inaccurate charges of an alleged Iran-al-Qaeda connection. Condi Rice took his advice, which is not the worst thing we know about her, but it is one of the worst.

Someone in the US intelligence agencies has been leaking to the press allegations about operational cooperation between Iran and al-Qaeda, an idea the documents show is completely implausible, this winter. The Telegraph was punked in this way recently.

If unreliable intelligence personnel with an axe to grind can leak enough to the newspapers, and if the latter prove gullible, then a public record can be created for a false idea, which in turn can be quoted by Congressmen and -women and cabinet officials, and ultimately can become the basis for military action. That the US intelligence and security apparatuses have been infiltrated in recent decades by persons with such axes to grind, whether on behalf of the military industrial complex or on behalf of supposed foreign allies, seems an inescapable conclusion if we consider the record over the past decade or a little more of how disinformation has been successfully made the basis of US policy and war-making.

In a country where most congressional representatives were actually representing the public weal and had not been bought by the arms manufacturers or the domestic lobbies interested in war, the Center for Combatting Terrorism at West Point would be warmly supported and not have to limp along from year to year wondering if it would be funded.

18 Responses

  1. the way modern government works in a mediated culture is your sentence here ……

    “If unreliable intelligence personnel with an axe to grind can leak enough to the newspapers, and if the latter prove gullible, then a public record can be created for a false idea, which in turn can be quoted by Congressmen and -women and cabinet officials, and ultimately can become the basis for military action.”

  2. “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government or information to the people. This last is the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

    It seems Mr. Jefferson never encountered Mr. May and his band or bloodthirsty neocons who would pervert this notion of educating the people, by printing lies (Torture is a good thing and Iraq and Iran are part of the Axis of Evil) and false statements (LIES) to promote continued hatred for all Muslims, while Israel gets a free pass for operating an open air prison in Gaza and killing innocent aid workers.

    • Those that lie, and those who repeat lies that they could look into but won’t, are as bad as the extremists they pretend to be saving us from.
      Extremists that are out to murder you are your enemy, irrespective of who they are, and from which direction it is coming from. And it is necessary to know your enemy, is it not, in order to determine how best to deal with the threat?

      Thank you, disloyal neocon liars. You’re doing a really good job of reinforcing negative stereotypes. But maybe not the ones you intended to reinforce.

  3. Trying to link Iran with terrorist groups and even with Bin Ladin is nothing new. On the day when 9/11 happened, the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak who was stopping over in London after having visited the US on September 10, said that the “fight” had to go beyond Bin Laden and “the Palestinian resistance groups” to include countries that allegedly supported and harbored them, including “Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, to a certain degree North Korea and Libya, Sudan and a few other regimes that play a secondary role.” Benjamin Netanyahu also jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use the ghastly act to agitate against the states that were hostile to Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported Netanyahu’s calls for a coalition against “terrorist states like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian entity” that want to “devour the West.” This phony war has served Israel well, with Iraq, Libya, and Yasir Arafat’s “Palestinian entity” already removed, Sudan partitioned, Syria in turmoil and Iran being encircled by US forces and threatened with a devastating war.
    Bin Ladin is dead but the mindset that was set in motion on 9/11 is still with us, both in America and sadly among the Israelis and the terrorists.

    • It hasn’t maybe served “Israel” well — it has served a very few Israeli ‘niks who profit politically and monetarily from igniting, and then fanning the flames, of incipient Armageddon. Is it possible for the brute slug that is the American electorate, and the cynical, fearful Israeli electorate, to maybe start to see that they are nothing but expendable pawns and “bugsplat” in the motions of these ersatz Great Gamers? And ask themselves some “strategic” questions, like “How do the rules and structure and order of play in the Forever War make my life, and the lives of those I care for and about, any better or more secure?”

  4. Trying to link Iran with terrorist groups and even with Bin Ladin is nothing new. On the day when 9/11 happened, the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak who was stopping over in London after having visited the US on September 10, said that the “fight” had to go beyond Bin Laden and “the Palestinian resistance groups” to include countries that allegedly supported and harbored them, including “Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, to a certain degree North Korea and Libya, Sudan and a few other regimes that play a secondary role.” Benjamin Netanyahu also jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use the ghastly act to agitate against the states that were hostile to Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported Netanyahu’s calls for a coalition against “terrorist states like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian entity” that want to “devour the West.” This phony war has served Israel well, with Iraq, Libya, and Yasir Arafat’s “Palestinian entity” already removed, Sudan partitioned, Syria in turmoil and Iran being encircled by US forces and threatened with a devastating war.
    Bin Ladin is dead but the mindset that was set in motion on 9/11 is still with us, both in America and sadly among the Israelis and the terrorists.
    Link for the quotes: link to iranian.com

  5. Your statement about an “unreliable intelligence personnel with an axe to grind” cuts both ways. I find it hard to believe that we are presented with an accurate picture of Osama bin Laden or al Queda when we are given 17 documents out of many hundreds that were gathered on that day. Are we to believe that these were not cherry picked to present the image that “the powers that be” want us to see? Stories like Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman are far too fresh in my memory for me to run around claiming victory over the forces of evil just because the government has gotten out their paintbrushes.

    • The point of stories like the Pat Tillman coverup is that the government has a pro-war bias, isn’t it? If that’s the bias, then why should I believe that a government that has been exaggerating threats and committing crimes would be looking for an excuse to do nothing at all about actual terrorists targeting the US?

  6. Hi Juan,

    Thank you for this post.

    By the way, any chance you can increase the number of items on a page? I noticed you have reduced the number and for a proxy user like myself it’s a bit of drag to keep having to go through several steps to get to the next page. Just a suggestion.

    Peace,

    M. Alireza

  7. Just as current events are falsified, much of history is distorted by people with axes to grind or books to sell. Significant events are forgotten and silk purses are made of sow’s ears. We can be sure that much of what we know is wrong.

  8. I would like to add, that the promotion of the Al Queda / Iraq non relationship is typical of most of what comes out of government. I am close to 65 years of age. And all I observed the US government in my years is predominately oppressive actions based on misinformation, coupled with quite stupid thinking. To me it is irrelevant whether the actions are because of malevolent infiltration by Israeli intelligence, or just plain stupid actions by Americans who are supposedly highly intelligent (Vietnam, Chile, Cuba, just to name a few), they are still highly destructive to their recipients.

    The problem is that most Americans, even the highly educated ones, live in a world of delusion; created by themselves to hide from their frequent inappropriate actions. And living in a world of delusion, they are quite susceptible to misinformation from their government; allowing their government to regularly do dastardly things.

  9. I was more than half convinced that all of the crowing about the “trove of intelligence” collected at bin Laden’s compound was just a psy-ops program intended to scare al Qaeda members into bolting from their rabbit holes.

    I guess not. They seem to have legitimately hit the jackpot.

  10. It serves America well to distance Iran from Al Quaeda. So much for the timing & truth of Osama papers. Off course when a new bogey is created, Osama’s ghost wil be allowed to RIP and “treasure trove” of Osama CDs will be forgotten.

  11. This is only a surprise to the wilfully ignorant and to those for whom facts are inconvenient. It was Iran that provided the US with intelligence on Al Qaeda and the Taliban prior to the US’s invasion.

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