Michael Totten

Al Qaeda in Iran

By Noah Pollak
It is long past time that one important piece of fantastical rubbish be finally sent on its way: this is the idea that Islamists maintain some kind of fastidious ethnic and theological separatism when it comes to who they’re willing to work with on killing people. The co-option of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Sunni Arab) by Iran (Shia Persian) is one piece of reality that intrudes on this comforting notion; so is the Iran-Syria alliance, along with the reality of Iranian support for both Shia and Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
A final nail in the coffin comes today from Eli Lake, the New York Sun’s talented national security reporter (and good friend). “Eli’s scoop”:http://www.nysun.com/article/58507 is about the National Intelligence Estimate, an unclassified summary of which will be released today, but whose classified final working draft concludes that:

One of two known Al Qaeda leadership councils meets regularly in eastern Iran, where the American intelligence community believes dozens of senior Al Qaeda leaders have reconstituted a good part of the terror conglomerate’s senior leadership structure.

Iranian hospitality toward Al Qaeda is not a new story — but what is new is the apparent fact that one of two Qaeda leadership councils meets in Iran, and with the complicity of the regime. As Eli notes:

An intelligence official sympathetic to the view that it is a matter of Iranian policy to cooperate with Al Qaeda disputed the CIA and State Department view that the Quds Force is operating as a rogue force. “It is just impossible to believe that what the Quds Force does with Al Qaeda does not represent a decision of the government,” the official, who asked not to be identified, said. “It’s a bit like saying the directorate of operations for the CIA is not really carrying out U.S. policy.”

Stories like these reinforce another very basic idea: terrorism has a return address.