Allegations about Iran and al-Qaeda
Here we go again. Okaz, the Saudi tabloid, alleged that Saif al-Adil al-Misri,
a high al-Qaeda official, ordered the recent bombings in Saudi Arabia
The allegations that Sayf al-Adl is in Iranian custody; that he is allowed
by the Revolutionary Guards or the Quds Brigade to have a certain freedom
of movement to launch al-Qaeda attacks from Iran; and that he was behind
the May bombings in Saudi Arabia; have all surfaced before. They came
from the Iranian expatriate press, including Nourizadeh at al-Sharq
al-Awsat (a Saudi newspaper), and are completely unsourced. They also
talk about Ayman al-Zawahiri moving between Iran and Afghanistan freely.
The stories are so detailed as to raise suspicions for me that they are
concocted, since it is unlikely that such things would be known so
completely. Anthony Shadid, who is usually excellent, bought this story
over the summer and put it in the Post.
Now that expatriate Iraqis such as Ahmad Chalabi managed to drag the US
into a war with Iraq on the basis of unfounded allegations of
Baathist-al-Qaeda connections (and were abetted in this by Doug Feith’s
Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, which cherry-picked such reports
and highlighted them to Cheney), I think we have to be very careful about
expatriate Iranian journalism and its allies.
The fact is that US intelligence has no human intelligence assets inside
Iran who can verify that Sayf al-Adl is in Iranian custody, or what his
conditions of confinement are, or what exactly he is up to. The
likelihood that anyone in al-Qaeda would use a satellite phone nowadays
strikes me as very, very low, and if they did I can only think there would
be a Tomahawk missile strike on the position immediately.
Likewise, the likelihood that Khamenei would authorize an al-Qaeda attack
on Saudia from Iran just seems to me so low that I would need airtight
evidence before I would credit it. Al-Qaeda and its offshoots have
assassinated large numbers of Shiites, including Iranian attaches in
Karachi, and is not an obvious ally for Tehran. Saudi-Iranian relations
My own standard of proof in regard to such allegations begins with common
sense. Does the allegation make any sense on the surface? This one does
not, just as the stories of Saddam and Osama being buddy-buddy do not.
Of course, in the covert world all sorts of shadowy and unlikely
relationships are forged, so it is possible. But when a relationship
seems unlikely from a common-sense point of view, then I require a higher
standard of evidence before I can accept it. In this case, there is no
documentary evidence at all, only allegations emanating from Iranian
expatriate journalists and possibly picked up by Wahhabi Saudi officials
for their own reasons.
I am sure Okaz was told all this by its sources, but we don’t know
what *their* sources were, and I find the whole scenario frankly