October 19, 2019

State Department: Iran Still Harbors Al-Qaeda Terrorists

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo/File Photo

The State Department noted in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) report that Iran is continuing to harbor senior al-Qaeda terrorists and serve as a “core facilitation pipeline” for the terror group’s activities.

The CRT report’s section on Iran mentions this in the section’s concluding paragraph:

Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members residing in Iran and has refused to publicly identify the members in its custody. Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.

According to the Foundation for Defense Democracies’ Long War Journal, several Treasury and State Department reports have said similar things about al-Qaeda and Iran, dating as far back as 2008. But as the Journal has reported, al-Qaeda and Iran’s relationship dates as far as back as 1991, when Iran offered to provide al-Qaeda with as much weaponry, funding and training as it needs.

The Journal also reported, “Iran allowed the 9/11 terrorists to slip through its country and into the United States before the deadly terror attack occurred.”

Long War Journal has described the Iran-al-Qaeda relationship as “curious”:

The two sides have openly fought one another in Syria and Yemen. Iran also detained a number of al Qaeda leaders and family members for years after the 9/11 attacks. This led al Qaeda to agitate for their release. Al Qaeda considers the expansion of Iranian influence throughout the Middle East to be pernicious. And al Qaeda’s leaders regularly frame their Sunni jihad as a counterweight to Iran’s Shiite designs.

Still, unlike the Islamic State, al Qaeda has not conducted a direct terrorist attack inside Iran, as this would cause problems for its facilitators. According to the US government, these same operatives have managed al Qaeda’s “core pipeline” inside Iran for years.

The CRT report also notes that Iran is funding Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The Trump administration has been cracking on down on the Iranian regime of late with sanctions that are causing Iran’s crude oil exports to severely decline.