May 12, 2012
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department’s claim of a “secret deal” between Iran and Al-Qaeda, which had become a key argument by right-wing activists who support war against Iran, has been discredited by former intelligence officials in the wake of publication of documents from Osama bin Laden’s files revealing a high level of antagonism between Al-Qaeda and Iran.
Three former intelligence officials with experience on Near East and South Asia told IPS they regard Treasury’s claim of a secret agreement between Iran and Al-Qaeda as false and misleading.
That claim was presented in a way that suggested it was supported by intelligence. It now appears, however, to have been merely a propaganda line designed to support the Barack Obama administration’s strategy of diplomatic coercion on Iran.
Under Secretary of Treasury David S. Cohen announced last July that the department was “exposing Iran’s secret deal with Al-Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory.” The charge was introduced in connection with the designation of an Al-Qaeda official named Yasin al-Suri as a terrorist subject to financial sanctions.
The Treasury claim has been embraced by the right-wing Weekly Standard and others aligned with hardline Israeli views on Iran, as primary source evidence of an alliance between Iran and Al-Qaeda.
But Paul Pillar, former national intelligence officer for Near East and South Asia, told IPS the allegation of a “secret deal” between Iran and Al-Qaeda “has never been backed up by any evidence that would justify such a term” and that it is “a highly misleading characterization of interaction between Iran and Al-Qaedaâ€¦.”