Does al Qaeda “coordinate” with Iran?

One of the big debates in the “war on terror” is whether and to what extent Iran is working with al Qaeda. Middle East experts like Juan Cole argue that Shiite Iran would never work with the vehemently anti-Shiite al Qaeda, whereas more hawkish terrorism analysts maintain that there is evidence that Iran has allowed ...

602084_070507_albahri_05.jpg
602084_070507_albahri_05.jpg

One of the big debates in the "war on terror" is whether and to what extent Iran is working with al Qaeda. Middle East experts like Juan Cole argue that Shiite Iran would never work with the vehemently anti-Shiite al Qaeda, whereas more hawkish terrorism analysts maintain that there is evidence that Iran has allowed a group of al Qaeda members to supervise attacks from Iranian territory. A third position, which seems to be the dominant one in the Bush administration, holds that Iran is detaining al Qaeda operatives in order to trade them for members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, a strange group of cult-like Marxists that Saddam Hussein used as a proxy force against the Iranians. The U.S military has been holding a large group of MEK members in a camp in Iraq, waiting for the Bush administration to make up its mind about these individuals.

Well, the debate just got a little more interesting. Nasser Ahmad Al-Bahri, a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden (who is apparently still alive), told Al Arabiya satellite channel (Arabic) that top al Qaeda leaders such as Seif al-Adel and Abu Hafs the Mauritanian are responsible for the "coordination file" with Iran. The reason for the alliance? Al-Bahri says it's because "our enemy is one and that is the United States." That doesn't mean, he says, that al Qaeda supports "the Iranian agenda."

Is this true? It seems to be the case that Seif al-Adel and Abu Hafs are in Iran, but this new admission is unlikely to resolve the debate over what they're really doing there. One thing to keep in mind: Al Qaeda may be goading the United States into attacking Iran. Over the weekend, a recently-recorded tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri surfaced in which the al Qaeda #2 said he wished to see 200,000 to 300,000 Americans killed in Iraq. That's not likely to happen no matter how long the U.S. military stays there, but it does give a sense of al Qaeda's current thinking.

One of the big debates in the “war on terror” is whether and to what extent Iran is working with al Qaeda. Middle East experts like Juan Cole argue that Shiite Iran would never work with the vehemently anti-Shiite al Qaeda, whereas more hawkish terrorism analysts maintain that there is evidence that Iran has allowed a group of al Qaeda members to supervise attacks from Iranian territory. A third position, which seems to be the dominant one in the Bush administration, holds that Iran is detaining al Qaeda operatives in order to trade them for members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, a strange group of cult-like Marxists that Saddam Hussein used as a proxy force against the Iranians. The U.S military has been holding a large group of MEK members in a camp in Iraq, waiting for the Bush administration to make up its mind about these individuals.

Well, the debate just got a little more interesting. Nasser Ahmad Al-Bahri, a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden (who is apparently still alive), told Al Arabiya satellite channel (Arabic) that top al Qaeda leaders such as Seif al-Adel and Abu Hafs the Mauritanian are responsible for the “coordination file” with Iran. The reason for the alliance? Al-Bahri says it’s because “our enemy is one and that is the United States.” That doesn’t mean, he says, that al Qaeda supports “the Iranian agenda.”

Is this true? It seems to be the case that Seif al-Adel and Abu Hafs are in Iran, but this new admission is unlikely to resolve the debate over what they’re really doing there. One thing to keep in mind: Al Qaeda may be goading the United States into attacking Iran. Over the weekend, a recently-recorded tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri surfaced in which the al Qaeda #2 said he wished to see 200,000 to 300,000 Americans killed in Iraq. That’s not likely to happen no matter how long the U.S. military stays there, but it does give a sense of al Qaeda’s current thinking.

(Hat tip: MidEastWire.com)

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