Iran and Al Qaeda's

(Weekly Standard) Thomas Joscelyn - In July, the U.S. Treasury Department designated six members of an al Qaeda network based inside Iran. Some members of the network are based outside of Iran, but funnel recruits and cash through Iranian soil. The network operates "under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government." One member of this network is Libyan-born Atiyah (who's known to analysts by his first name). Treasury notes that Atiyah is al Qaeda's "overall commander in Pakistan's tribal areas and as of late 2010, the leader of al Qaeda in North and South Waziristan, Pakistan." The Treasury Department adds that Atiyah was previously appointed by Osama bin Laden to serve as al Qaeda's emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials. Atiyah was planning a terrorist attack against the U.S. that was potentially set to coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Some U.S. intelligence officials think Atiyah is even "more important" than Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's new emir. The described Atiyah as al Qaeda's "operations chief." Atiyah was appointed al Qaeda's emissary to Iran and had an explicit deal with the Iranians that allowed him to move in an out the mullahs' country. Atiyah is one of the beneficiaries of a deal between the Iranian government and Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, who funnels recruits and money from the Gulf States through Iran to Atiyah. I'll add one more dot: Atiyah was protected by the Iranian regime for several years after 9/11. He is one of the senior al Qaeda leaders who the Iranians refused to acknowledge holding in custody and was supposedly held under a loose form of "house arrest." All of which brings us back to the original question folks should be asking: What role, if any, does Iran play in Atiyah's plotting?

2011-08-26 00:00:00

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