December 27, 2011
On Sunday, Iran rejected a ruling by Judge George Daniels in Manhattan that it is responsible along with al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
In December 23, the federal court ruled ruled that Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah materially and directly supported al-Qaeda in the September 11, 2001, attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of victims who are plaintiffs in the case.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast characterized the court decision as “clumsy scenario-making” by the United States. He said al-Qaeda has no presence in Iran and that it is quite “evident” that the United States created al-Qaeda and supported it.
The U.S. State Department says Iran is harboring Syrian-born Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, aka Yacine al-Suri, described as a high-level al-Qaeda “facilitator” who it claims has operated from inside Iran since 2005 “under an agreement between al-Qaeda and the Iranian government.”
The U.S. claims al-Suri moves money and recruits across the Middle East into Iran, and then on to Pakistan, in support al-Qaeda’s senior leadership.
“He is also an important fundraiser for al-Qaeda and has collected money from donors and fundraisers throughout the Gulf. Al Suri funnels significant funds via Iran for onward passage to al- Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq,” states the Rewards for Justice program.
The lawsuit claims Ayman al-Zawahiri, described as the leader of al-Qaeda following the unsubstantiated assassination of Osama bin Laden, went to Iran in January of 2001 for four days of “intense closed-door meetings with the top leadership in Iran to discuss the impending attacks,” writes Kenneth Timmerman for The Daily Caller.
Evidence to the contrary was apparently not considered in the case. In 2002, the Hayat-e-Nou newspaper reported that al-Zawahiri was captured and jailed in Tehran. He was imprisoned in the Evin jail, where political prisoners are usually held, according to the newspaper run by Hadi Khamenei, a leading legislator and the brother of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Following the report, however, Iran denied it had arrested al-Zawahiri.
In 2005, Iranian intelligence minister Ali Younessi said approximately a thousand al-Qaeda members captured in Iran were jailed or deported. Younessi said the large number of alleged al-Qaeda members were arrested “because they intended to use Iranian territory to launch terrorist strikes on other countries.” Younessi said the many of the arrested worked for Ansar al-Islam in neighboring Iraq.
In 2003, the front man for Ansar al-Islam, Mullah Krekar, threatened to reveal his connections to the CIA.
The effort to link al-Qaeda to the Iranian government is reminiscent of an earlier attempt to link the CIA-created terrorist group to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In 2003, the Bush neocons insisted there was a link between al-Zarqawi, Ansar al-Islam, and Saddam Hussein. Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the United Nations Security Council on February 3, 2003, and insisted that Saddam Hussein’s government had ties to al-Qaeda and Ansar-al-Islam. The United States invaded the country the following month.
In 2008, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that the accusation was not “substantiated by the intelligence.” The year after the United States invaded Iraq, Powell admitted there was no “smoking gun [or] concrete evidence” that Saddam Hussein was connected to al-Qaeda.
As the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood founded Islamic Jihad in Egypt, Ayman al-Zawahiri received money and support from the CIA beginning in 1987. The future al-Qaeda leader had visited California twice in the 1990s and once in 1989 on fund raising missions despite the fact the FBI knew he was the leader of a terrorist organization.
Al-Qaeda has exploited the Sunni-Shia divide and considers Iran an enemy (Iran is a Shia nation and al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization).
In 2008, al-Zawahiri said it would be “in the interest” of al-Qaeda to see Iran “sap[ped]” by a fight with the United States. Ayman al-Zawahiri made the comments following a claim by then presidential candidate John McCain that al-Qaeda and Iran were in cahoots.