Allegations About Iran And Al Qaeda

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

from Tehran.

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

have thawed.

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

implausible.

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