February 1, 2012
Prior to James Clapper’s intelligence report before the Senate warning of Iranian attacks inside the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations posted an article on its Foreign Affairs website pushing the idea that al-Qaeda and Iran are working together.
Iran’s alleged cooperation with al-Qaeda adds scary dimension to its unsubstantiated nuclear threat.
“Iran appears willing to expand its limited relationship with al Qaeda. Just as with its other surrogate, Hezbollah, the country could turn to al Qaeda to mount a retaliation to any U.S. or Israeli attack,” Seth G. Jones wrote on January 29.
Jones argues that Iran’s Quds Force initiated the relationship with al-Qaeda by importing several hundred of its members. He notes that the U.S. was engaged in talks with Iran and demanded it deport al Qaeda leaders to their countries of origin. Iran allegedly refused to do this.
Iran would later arrest and either imprison or put al-Qaeda member under house arrest. Despite this crack-down, Jones argues, Iran is today an important al-Qaeda hub, even though the purportedly late Anwar al-Awlaki denounced Iran in 2010.
Jones’ assertion on a nefarious Iran-al-Qaeda nexus is the stuff of official conspiracy theories arising from the 9/11 Commission report and from accusations made by Bush-era neocons. Much of the information used to establish the Iran-al-Qaeda relationship was gained during the interrogation of supposed al-Qaeda detainees. The U.S. claims a number of alleged 9/11 hijackers and al-Qaeda operatives traveled to Iran to and from Afghanistan, but does not offer any direct evidence of links between flights and the Iranians.
It should also be noted that Iran had attempted to work with the Bush administration on delivering al-Qaeda members held in Iran to the newly installed government in Afghanistan in exchange for information on Guantanamo detainees suspected of killing nine Iranian diplomats in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1998. The Iranian request was denied after Bush declared Iran part of the Axis of Evil. Prior to Bush’s snub, Iran had turned over hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects to U.S. allies following the defeat of the Taliban. It provided valuable intelligence, names, photographs, and fingerprints on suspected al-Qaeda members it held.
The CFR report – while mentioning Iran’s detention of al-Qaeda suspects and also the unlikelihood of Shi’a Iran and militant Sunni Wahhabists collaborating – bases its assumptions on a deeply flawed 9/11 narrative and a number of historically inaccurate (or at best omissive) “facts” about the CIA created and nurtured terror group.
The neocons have readily picked up on the CFR report and are pushing it as a pretext to invade Iran. “Jones is clearly sensitive to the possibility that the evidence he has produced could strengthen the hand of those who argue for military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” writes former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen. “He concludes that a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could backfire by pushing Iran and al Qaeda closer together.”
“This is certainly a risk that must be weighed before any military action is taken. But policymakers could reasonably conclude that the risk of a closer Iran-al Qaeda alliance does not, in the long run, outweigh the risk of an Iranian regime armed with nuclear weapons,” Thiessen concludes.
The neocons are a one-trick pony and have already demonstrated their willingness to fall back on the same fallacious line of reasoning that provided much of the impetus for the invasion of Iraq. This time around, however, they will allow Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites under the pretext of mad ayatollahs in possession of nuclear weapons.
A larger and more ominous attack on Iran’s government and civilian infrastructure will be carried out by the United States, as it was in Iraq. The goal is not to hobble Iran’s fledgling nuclear program, but to reduce the nation to rubble and make sure it is not a decisive player in the region, a role that will be assigned to Israel and a number of corrupt Arab and Muslim client states.