Excerpts from the Report: Assistance from Hizballah and Iran to al-Qaeda

(National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al-Qaeda figures after Bin Laden's return to Afghanistan. Khallad (Sheikh Muhammad) has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al-Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because Bin Laden did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia. In October 2000 a senior operative of Hizballah visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there. He also planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November. In mid-November [2000] we believe three of the future muscle hijackers...all of whom had obtained their U.S. visas in late October, traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran. An associate of a senior Hizballah operative was on the same flight that took the future hijackers to Iran. Hizballah officials in Beirut and Iran were expecting the arrival of a group during the same period. In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers. There is also circumstantial evidence that senior Hizballah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence. After 9/11, Iran and Hizballah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al-Qaeda. A senior Hizballah official disclaimed any Hizballah involvement in 9/11. We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.

2004-07-23 00:00:00

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