Naylor on Iran/al-Qaeda Red Herring
Professor Thomas Naylor of McGill writes:
This is certainly not the the first time these tales about Iran cooperating with al-Qa’idah have surfaced. About two years ago US spooks floated via the Washington Post and other outlets some silly stories about al-Qa’idah involved in the underground traffic in gold. Since no one could find any other trace of the alleged bin Laden billions, the covert gold market was the choice-of-the-month. The main instrument for getting the story into the public domain was the same Washington Post reporter who had already given the world the fantasy about bin Laden running the conflict diamonds trade out of Sierra Leone. The result was a story that, when US bombs started to fall on Afghanistan, bin Laden and the Taliban secured the cooperation of prominent Iranian clerics to move the gold to the Sudan, that well known international financial haven, in planes the Iranians provided. (How this was supposed to be happening after Taliban forces slaughtered so many Shia’ Hazara or
ousted Iran’s man from Herat, was never explained.) The story was mixed up with other nonsense that had al-Qa’idah and the Taliban running gold through the “historic” route that smuggles gold “from Pakistan to the Gulf” – this must have been a big surprise to all the dhow operators who were convinced they had been moving gold in the other direction for centuries. Anyway the story made a brief media splash, then seemed to magically vanish once U.S.-Iranian relations started to thaw. Further details on this are going to be published in the paperback reissue of a book of mine called “Wages of Crime,” Cornell UP autumn 2004.
Professor R. T. Naylor
Department of Economics
855 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal H3A2T7 Quebec