CIA documents ‘conclusive proof of Al-Qaeda-Iran ties’

Osama bin Laden’s house in Pakistan, from where the documents were seized, being demolished on Feb. 26, 2012. (AFP)
Updated 03 November 2017
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CIA documents ‘conclusive proof of Al-Qaeda-Iran ties’

JEDDAH: Wednesday’s release by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden has “conclusively proved” the terror chief’s cosy relationship with Iran, experts say.
US intelligence officials and prosecutors have long said Iran formed loose ties to Al-Qaeda from 1991 onward.
This was noted in a 19-page report in Arabic that was included in the release of some 47,000 other documents by the CIA.
Iran has long denied any involvement with Al-Qaeda, but the report included in the CIA document dump shows how Bin Laden partnered with Tehran to target the US.
The Associated Press (AP) examined a copy of the report released by the Long War Journal, a publication backed by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank fiercely critical of Iran and skeptical of its nuclear deal with world powers. The CIA gave the Long War Journal early access to the material.
“Anyone who wants to strike America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with their frank and clear rhetoric,” AP quotes the report as saying.
The unsigned report is dated in the Islamic calendar year 1428 (2007), and offers what appears to be a history of Al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran.
It says Iran offered Al-Qaeda fighters “money and arms and everything they need, and offered them training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in return for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia.”
This coincides with an account offered by the US government’s 9/11 Commission, which said Iranian officials met with Al-Qaeda leaders in Sudan in either 1991 or early 1992.
The commission said Al-Qaeda militants later received training in Lebanon from the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
US prosecutors also said Al-Qaeda had the backing of Iran and Hezbollah in their 1998 indictment of Bin Laden following Al-Qaeda’s truck bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said the documents provide for the first time direct evidence of the symbiotic relationship between Al-Qaeda’s most senior operatives and Tehran.
“Without Iranian support and safe haven, Al-Qaeda as an organization couldn’t have endured for as long as it did following the international backlash it faced after the 9/11 terror attacks,” Shahbandar told Arab News.
“That Bin Laden was personally involved in establishing Al-Qaeda’s network in Iran shows how shrewd and cynical the regime in Tehran truly is, and how capable and willing it is to support international extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and its successor Daesh.”
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said he is not surprised by the damning revelations.
“There has long been strong evidence showing the connection between Tehran and Al-Qaeda, including the fact that the Iranian regime has sheltered Al-Qaeda leaders,” he told Arab News.
“Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism. Its regime supports, funds, arms and trains any terrorist group that shares its revolutionary values, such as anti-Americanism and pursuing hegemonic ambitions in the region,” he said.
“As a US federal judge found, Iran was a key player in facilitating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The US should’ve confronted the Iranian regime, not Iraq,” Rafizadeh added.
“The US should hold the Iranian regime, and those leaders who helped facilitate the 9/11 attacks, accountable through various means such as sanctioning them, bringing them to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and isolating them.”
On Thursday, the semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), dismissed the CIA documents as “a project against Tehran.”


Palestinians protest US visa denial to experts to come to UN

Updated 14 min 24 sec ago
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Palestinians protest US visa denial to experts to come to UN

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians are protesting the US refusal to grant visas to six experts from the prime minister’s office to come to the United Nations to present a report on Palestinian implementation of UN goals for 2030.
The Palestinian UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, told two reporters Wednesday that Israel “complicated the matter” by refusing to allow several of the experts to travel from Ramallah to Jerusalem where the US Consulate is located to check on their visas.
“We condemn this action,” Mansour said.
He said it violates the UN agreement with the United States as host country of the world organization, which requires the US to facilitate UN work and allow delegates to attend UN meetings.
Mansour said he plans to send a letter of protest to the General Assembly committee dealing with host country relations.
The US Mission said it was looking into the complaint. Israel’s UN Mission did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Since the experts couldn’t attend the high-level meeting taking place this week at UN headquarters, Mansour said he and his team “were able to improvise” and presented the Palestinian report on Tuesday. He said it “received a long applause from the participants.”
Mansour said he started the presentation by “condemning the fact that they were denied visas, and the work of our delegation was obstructed in violation of the headquarters agreement.”
The high-level meeting is hearing what nearly 50 countries are doing to implement the UN goals to combat poverty, promote development and gender equality, and preserve the environment by 2030.
The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in November 2012 to upgrade the Palestinians’ status from a UN observer to a non-voting observer state, enabling it to make a voluntary report.
Mansour said that although the Palestinians are trying their best to fulfill the different UN goals by 2030, “the overriding issue influencing our effort to accomplish these objectives is the negative effect of occupation” by Israel.
In spite of that, he said, “we almost have 100 percent of education for our kids, our illiteracy is close to zero, there’s improvement in the medical field, but there’s need and challenges.”
Mansour said the Palestinians need more hospitals, more schools in east Jerusalem and elsewhere, and more housing.
“In terms of food security, we don’t have people who are starving although 1.2 million of the population in the Gaza Strip rely on food program assistance and help from UNRWA,” which is facing a funding crisis after major US cuts.