Tuesday, November 17, 2020

From Ian:

Iran, al-Qaeda, and Joe Biden’s Middle East Trap
In terms of power, commerce, and security co-operation in the region, more has transpired in the last four years in the Middle East than the previous forty. The Democrats’ loathing of President Trump aside, reaffirming a commitment to an utterly discredited policy experiment would be a disastrous early foray into foreign policy.

Iran is now thought to have accumulated enormous amounts of enriched uranium. It continues to finance global terrorist networks and, most importantly, because of this leaked information, is now publicly linked to support of al-Qaeda.

And that, perhaps, is most interesting of all in this intrigue. Shi’ite Iran is not a natural ally of Sunni al-Qaeda, but the Iranians have proven to be accommodating when it comes to financing and controlling terrorist entities with aligned interests. But now, this exposure of a key al-Qaeda operative being protected by the regime makes it much more difficult for the Biden administration to court Iran. American forgiveness of al-Qaeda is not a popular position and would appear to play into the extreme left-wing of the Democratic party, which Biden is under extraordinary pressure to control and marginalize.

The leak of this operation will surely heighten the pressure on Biden to rethink his approach to JCPOA and Iran. Perhaps that was the point.

Americans are likely to be enraged by the prospect of appeasing a nation that harbors and supports al-Qaeda’s leadership. And that will mess things up for Biden. It has far less to do with Trump and much more to do with the alliances forged between Israel and its neighbors in the wake of Obama’s JCPOA dream. Whether they can see clearly through their hatred of the outgoing president and properly assess the Middle East four years on remains to be seen.

What is clear is that the prospect of getting all chummy with al-Qaeda benefactors makes JCPOA 2.0 way more difficult.


Dan Schueftan: The U.S. Should Back Allies, "Break" Enemies in the Middle East
The emerging coalition between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and others brokered by the Trump administration has greatly checked Iran's ambitions. The Gulf Arabs now understand that Israel is the "only regional element that has a strong enough motivation to fight Iran" and "can be trusted because it must fight Iran for its own good."

However, Schueftan believes the "one major mistake" in the Trump administration's Middle East policy is its underestimation of the danger of Turkey, which he suggests is "going in the direction of a totalitarian regime" under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Not only is Turkey projecting its military power, notably in Syria and Libya, but it is sponsoring the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a presence throughout the Arab world. "The Muslim brothers are extremely dangerous because they have learned to pretend to be moderate ...They are as radical as you can possibly get, but smart enough to hide it."

Schueftan strongly recommends "persisting with the existing [U.S.] policy of maximum pressure on Iran" and "supporting local allies" against it, and he believes the same two-fold approach should be applied to Turkey. This means "see[ing] to it that Erdoğan's economy is undermined ... once he is economically challenged, he may lose a lot of support in Turkey." It means not only "backing the Greeks and the Cypriots against the Turkish attempt to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean," but also supporting the Kurds.

"Anything that the Iranian regime agrees to is ipso facto bad and dangerous for the other side."

Trying to reach an accommodation with either Iran or Turkey is a bad idea in Schueftan's view. "Anything that the Iranian regime agrees to is ipso facto bad and dangerous for the other side, if they agree to something, it means that we have been given a raw deal." The same zero-sum principle applies to Turkey. "Whatever is bad for Erdoğan, I think is good for the region."


Trump can help Israel against Iran in final months - analysis
FORMER ISRAELI ambassador to the US Michael Oren, who was in Washington as the Obama administration began talks with Iran, said the Trump administration was giving Biden “the gift of leverage” going into negotiations and called on the president-elect not to squander it. “As Bibi [Netanyahu] used to say, We have them on the ropes. Don’t let them get off the mat,” he said.

However, Oren mentioned efforts that Biden associates have been making to counter the Trump administration by spreading “myths” about the efforts to curb an Iran nuclear weapon.

“The lie of the JCPOA… [is a] false dichotomy that it’s either the Iran deal or war,” Oren said. “That isn’t the choice: The choice is between the Iran deal and a better deal. Nobody in the Middle East believed the choice is war. The only people who believed that is the American people because they’re so war-weary – and it worked.”

“I think that Biden would [present that dichotomy] again, and that’s a lie,” he said.

A “multidimensional lie” that some in the Biden orbit have been spreading is that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than it was before Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA, Oren said.

“[For] one [thing], the IAEA says Iran has not enriched enough uranium to produce even one nuclear weapon,” he said. “Two, the JCPOA enables Iran to develop centrifuges that enrich uranium at four times the present rate, reducing the breakout time to a quarter of what it was, which means [that it’s] much closer than Iran was to a bomb in 2015.”

Taking that into account, strategies that Israel and the Trump administration are not discussing openly are likely to have more staying power and be far more effective in protecting Israel from the Iranian threat at this juncture.
The New York Times’ Misleading ‘Analysis’ of Benjamin Netanyahu
Halbfinger has a similarly unorthodox conception of what constitutes a “calming influence.” In his view, the agreements that the Trump administration has brokered between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, and Sudan are not signs of a more stable region. But he does believe that a Biden administration would somehow have a pacifying effect. Especially if it responded to other Arab states’ expressing an interest in formalizing relations with the world’s only Jewish state by urging them to ask for more concessions from Israel in the Palestinian conflict. His idea of a balanced approach, then, entails the United States urging one of two willing parties in question not to agree to a deal unless one of the two provides more benefits to an unwilling fourth party. Got that?

Later in the column, Halbfinger credulously entertains an unsubstantiated hypothetical scenario from Pfeffer in which Biden would invite “Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, to Washington for high-profile meetings while snubbing the prime minister.” Similarly, he quotes a former adviser to former prime minister Shimon Peres, who speculated that Biden might say, “The party’s over. I don’t want to fight with you, but I intend to stabilize the situation, and you’re going to help me. Forget about annexation. No surprises. No unilateral anything. And I need something constructive from you as well: Make it easier to shore up the Palestinian Authority before it collapses, and Gaza before it explodes. And I promise you I’ll bring you into the room when I’m discussing Iran.” Neither hypothetical is subject to qualification from Halfbinger. Bibi will just have to do as Uncle Joe tells him, of course — “the party’s over.”

Most mainstream journalists tend to be sharply critical of Netanyahu, whom they characterize as fond of — as Halbfinger does in his piece — “divisive political tactics, denunciations of ‘fake news’ and playing to working-class voters’ resentments.” Netanyahu is a flawed man with no shortage of words and actions one can quibble with. But he has deftly guided Israel through every crisis it has faced during his tenure while — contrary to his political opponents’ portrayal of him — operating as a pragmatist rather than a winger. Netanyahu knows there will be no good-faith negotiation with the current crop of Palestinian leaders. But with Arab leaders spooked by the Obama administration’s absurd and illogical embrace of the Iranian regime, he saw an opportunity for rapprochement and took it.

The Left’s instinctive contempt for figures such as Netanyahu of course results in biased writing. But perhaps even worse is that it leads to inaccurate and unbalanced analysis. This is particularly true of columns labeled “News Analysis,” which are habitually shrill and lacking in insight. Unfortunately, a few hysterical quotes from the expert class, who tend to share the opinion of the author, can suffice to gain this designation and the patina of objectivity that comes with it. Netanyahu’s time as prime minister may well be coming to an end. He has, after all, held the position for nearly twelve years. But the idea that Donald Trump’s loss will bring it about is the stuff of the New York Times editorial board’s fantasies, not of sober analysis.


Jordan king heads to UAE for meeting with Emirati, Bahrain leaders
Jordan’s King Abdullah II is in the United Arab Emirates for a meeting on Wednesday with its crown prince, which will also include Bahrain’s king, according to Jordanian reports.

The meeting will come as two Bahraini ministers will reportedly make the first official visit to Israel by ministers from the Gulf kingdom to take part in a trilateral meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli and US officials. The Wednesday meeting is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al- Zayani.
Israeli Delegation Visits Dubai

Israel, EU Discuss Possible Rail Link Between Mediterranean, Gulf States
Israel and the European Union have begun talks regarding the possibility of creating a new rail link between the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf states, Israel’s Finance Ministry and central bank said on Monday.

The possible “regional peace railway” was brought up in the context of annual discussions that this year also focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Reuters. The rail link would boost the economies of Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

The Bank of Israel said the rail connection would be “shorter, faster, cheaper and safer” than currently used trade routes.

The idea follows the recent historic peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.


Emiratis unperturbed by fatwa banning them from prayers on Temple Mount
Emirati worshipers remain defiant in the face of a fatwa banning them from praying in al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming it is their religious right to do so.

The fatwa was issued by the grand mufti of Jerusalem after the August announcement of normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel under the Abraham Accords.

The decree has been met with criticism from religious leaders in the region, including Dr. Abbas Shuman, a member of Al-Azhar’s Committee of Senior Scholars in Egypt, who rejected the fatwa as un-Islamic.

“To the best of my knowledge, our Islamic history has not witnessed any fatwa by the righteous forefathers and their descendants banning any Muslim from praying in any mosque around the world,” he told the Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM.

Palestinians burned Israeli and Emirati flags after the announcement on August 13, including images of the UAE’s de facto ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the Temple Mount.
Attacked by PA Website, Emirati Airline Deletes Ad Depicting Jerusalem’s Second Temple
Al-Quds, the most widely read “Palestinian” daily, on Monday reported from Abu Dhabi that “the UAE’s Etihad Airways used an image of a model it called the ‘Second Temple’ of the Jews, in a promotional advertisement for flights to Israel that will start next March.”

The Al-Quds report added that the Etihad promotional video “also featured a picture of one of the alleys in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, as it is considered a landmark in Israel.”

On Monday, according to Al-Quds, “the company, which is wholly owned by the UAE government, released a short marketing tape promoting the trips it intends to operate to Israel, under the title ‘Visit Tel Aviv.’ Next March 28, it said it would start daily flights to and from Tel Aviv. However, the tape shows a model under which ‘The Second Temple’ was written in English, as one of the landmarks in Israel.”

Al-Quds then elaborated: “The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs says on its website that the Second Temple was destroyed by Roman forces in AD 70. Officially, Israel says that the ‘Second Temple’ was located in the place where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located in occupied Jerusalem.”

Well, not just Israel’s FM, the history books also say so…

In any event, the Emirati airline, Etihad Airways, has removed the offending promotion from Twitter. We managed to lay our hands on the video, which is lovely:




After 1st conflict fatality, activists beg PM to airlift all Ethiopian Jews now
A group that campaigns to bring the Jews remaining in Ethiopia to Israel warned on Monday that those waiting in Gondar and Addis Ababa are in “immediate, real and mortal danger” and should be airlifted immediately.

Fighting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front from the country’s northwest claimed its first victim from Gondar’s Jewish community on November 12 — Girmew Gete, 36.

He was killed in the border area between Tigray and Amhara, which is disputed by the two neighboring regions.

He had been waiting with his family to immigrate to Israel for 24 years and is survived by his partner and their four-year-old daughter.

Up to 14,000 people with Jewish roots are waiting to come to Israel, the vast majority having left their villages years ago to eke out livings near the Jewish community centers in Gondar City and Addis Ababa.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen donations and support from families in Israel drying up, and poverty and malnutrition are rife.

On Friday night, the TPLF launched rockets at two airports in Amhara, one of them serving Gondar City, where most of those waiting are based.
Justice, the Tamimi extradition and what Jordan tells Arabic media but not the world
We track Jordan's Arabic-language media closer than many outside observers. Still, we missed the exchange below until it was highlighted in an Arabic-language Twitter post [here]. Now we're catching up.

The tweet itself is dated October 6, 2020, a few days after Jordan forcibly expelled Nizar Tamimi to another country (evidently Qatar) with very little advance notice. We'll get to him in a moment.

The tweet refers to a scene that played out in what appears to be a conference room of the Foreign Ministry of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Amman, the capital. A 50 second long video (here) captures the interaction. Here's the brief dialogue in Arabic-to-English translation arranged by us:

Unidentified Jordanian journalist:
“Regarding the freed detainee Ahlam Tamimi, there are American pressures on Jordan...”

Ayman H. Safadi, Foreign Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:
Once more, sir, we are a country which respects the law. Jordanian law does not allow handing over a Jordanian citizen to a third country unless there are agreements. There is no agreement between Jordan and the US to hand over Ahlam Tamimi. Consequently there is no legal basis for handing her over as we adhere to the law in this case. There were requests from several parties in America to hand her over since there is a pending lawsuit against her. We say, because we act according to law, the law does not permit us to hand her over and consequently we shall not hand her over.”


Our Arabic-to-English translator thinks this was "some kind of periodical briefing. Both the flags at the foreign minister's sides are Jordanian. So it's unlikely this exchange was part of a formal visit of, say, some foreign dignitary. But it's hard to be certain."

Keep the foreign minister's assertion in mind - that Jordan, in safeguarding a confessed terrorist bomber, keeping her out of the reach of US justice, Federal criminal charges and a date in court, is acting in accordance with "the law" - while we expand the discussion.
Sending a Message to Gaza
Sunday saw Gaza’s rulers use every avenue at their disposal to relay to Israel that the rocket fire was accidental. Hamas has no interest in provoking a flare-up, the group stressed. Israel likely already deduced the same when mounting what was a very measured response to the attack.

Israel’s own desire to avoid escalation aside, such a measured response may not have been the best course of action.

Even if we accept the highly unlikely story that a weather-induced malfunction again triggered accidental rocket fire from Gaza — last year a lightning strike supposedly triggered rocket fire at Beersheva — Israel cannot simply tolerate the fact that hundreds of thousands of Israelis in southern and central Israel were jolted out of bed in the middle of the night.

Israel must demand that Hamas secure its sensitive systems and make sure that they are protected from malfunctions of any kind, let alone weather-induced ones.

Israel must drive this point home as aggressively as necessary to make sure Hamas understands some red lines cannot be crossed. Malfunctions don’t just happen — they are caused by negligence, poor maintenance, faulty storage, or all three. Hamas must make sure such things do not happen again.

A failure on Israel’s part to send a clear message to Hamas could backfire. Gaza’s rulers may perceive it as wariness on Israel’s part, and while strategically speaking Israel has no interest in fresh hostilities, Hamas has to be made to understand that it cannot unilaterally decide when to dial up tensions; that if you cross Israel’s red lines, there’s no telling what it will do.
IDF Exposes, Neutralizes Explosives in Southern Golan Heights
Israel Defense Forces troops on Tuesday discovered improvised explosive devices in the southern Golan Heights near the Syrian border, the military announced.

The bombs were exposed and neutralized during surveillance operations to locate explosives in the demilitarized zone where an IDF field clinic treated Syrian civilians wounded during their country’s seven-year civil war. The clinic, called Mazor Ladach (“relief for the suffering”), was launched in 2013 as part of the IDF’s “Operation Good Neighbor,” and shut down in August 2018.

The IDF is currently investigating the possibility that Iran’s proxy terrorist organization, Hezbollah—which has infrastructure in the Syrian Golan and enjoys the protection of the Syrian military—played a role in placing the explosives, Ynet reported.

In August, the IDF thwarted an attempt by terrorists to plant bombs in the same area.

“Special forces carrying out an ambush near a military post in the southern Golan Heights identified a squad of several terrorists planting explosives near the border fence. An IDF force and IDF aircraft fired on the four-man squad simultaneously, hitting them,” the Israeli military revealed at the time.
Israeli gets 7 years for smuggling supplies to Hamas for tunnels, weapons
An Israeli citizen was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of heading a cross-border smuggling ring that transferred thousands of tons of concrete, piping, metals and electronic equipment directly from Israel to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip.

Michael Peretz, a resident of the Mivtahim agricultural village in the Eshkol region that borders the Strip, was additionally fined NIS 200,000 (approximately $60,000) after he was convicted by Beersheba District Court earlier this year of a series of crimes that judges said “damaged national security.”

Among the charges, Peretz was found guilty of contacting a foreign agent, facilitating the transfer of illegal goods to terror groups, money laundering and tax fraud amounting to millions of dollars. He was, however, cleared of the most serious charge — “aiding a terror group in its war against Israel.”

According to allegations released by the Shin Bet security agency after his arrest in 2015, Peretz, along with two other Israelis, set up a front company to cloak the transfer of illegal materials to a Hamas middleman at the Kerem Shalom crossing, who then delivered them directly to the terror group.
Moroccans outraged by Palestinians’ ‘support’ for rebel group
Contradictory statements by Palestinian envoys concerning the Western Sahara conflict have apparently triggered a crisis between Morocco and the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier this week, the Palestinian embassy in Morocco distanced itself from a statement issued by a group named The Palestinian Youth Organization that expressed support for the Polisario Front, a rebel movement aiming to end Morocco’s presence in Western Sahara.

The embassy said that the statement does not represent the official position of the PA and stressed the Palestinians’ support for the “unity, safety and security of Morocco and the unity of Moroccan soil.”

On Tuesday, however, the Palestinian ambassador to Algiers, Amin Maqboul, was quoted as expressing support for the Polisario Front.

Maqboul, in an interview with an Algerian newspaper, said that the statement issued by the Palestinian embassy in Morocco does not represent the official position of the PA. The PA, he said, has not commented on recent developments in the Western Sahara.
PMW: Proud mother of terrorist involved in murder of 2: “We nursed [all of] you with the milk of heroism… you are heroes”
During an interview on official Palestinian Authority TV, the mother of imprisoned terrorist Sa’id Musa Shtayyeh who provided arms to terrorists who murdered 2, expressed her pride in her son, stating that he, and others like him, were raised on “the milk of heroism”:

Mother of prisoner Sa’id Shtayyeh: “I’m the mother of prisoner Sa’id Shtayyeh (i.e., terrorist, involved in murder of 2), who was sentenced to 2 life sentences and 15 years… I just tell him: “We nursed [all of] you with the milk of heroism, pride, and sacrifice. You are heroes, be proud!”
[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, Oct. 15, 2020]


Such statements from Palestinian parents of terrorists – be they imprisoned or so-called “Martyrs” - are not unusual. Palestinian Media Watch has documented numerous statements by proud parents who say their terrorist sons and daughters “honored” them with their actions.

Not only the parents are content with their children’s terror, so is the PA and it shows its appreciation by rewarding imprisoned terrorists and murderers with monthly salaries. Terrorist Shtayyeh has since his arrest in August 2002 received 820,600 shekels (US$ 243,613) from the PA in reward.


Israel tests “experimental” drugs on prisoners, released prisoner repeats PA libels

PA TV host doesn’t recognize Israel

Don't say Israel in the meaning of land and history because we don't recognize it-Palestinian writer

Planner of murder of 5 teaches MA program to imprisoned terrorists for Al-Quds Open University

Trump asked for options for attacking Iran last week, but held off -report
President Donald Trump, with two months left in office, last week asked for options on attacking Iran's main nuclear site, but ultimately decided against taking the dramatic step, a US official said on Monday.

Trump made the request during an Oval Office meeting on Thursday with his top national security aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the official said.

Trump, who has refused to concede and is challenging the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, is to hand over power to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

The official confirmed the account of the meeting in The New York Times, which reported the advisers persuaded Trump not to go ahead with a strike because of the risk of a broader conflict.

"He asked for options. They gave him the scenarios and he ultimately decided not to go forward," the official said.

The White House declined comment.

Trump has spent all four years of his presidency engaging in an aggressive policy against Iran, withdrawing in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, and imposing economic sanctions against a wide variety of Iranian targets.


How did Iran, al-Qaeda end up in bed together?
Sunnis hate Shi’ites, and Shi’ites hate Sunnis – for around 1,400 years.

Never the twain shall meet.

This would seem to be all the truer about the most radical and fanatical Sunnis, al-Qaeda, and their counterpart fanatical Shi’ites, the Iranian regime.

So how on earth can it be that, according to recent reports by The New York Times and Israel’s Channel 12, US and Israeli intelligence cooperated to assassinate al-Qaeda’s No. 2, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, a.k.a. Abu Muhammad al-Masri, on August 7 in the streets of Tehran? The short answer is that all is fair in love and war – and intelligence. Paradox goes with the territory if any national goal can be covertly achieved.

The longer answer starts with counterterrorism circles, which had placed Masri as living in Iran since 2003. There are some different reports about how freely he could move until 2015, at which time he seemed to gain greater ability.

Publicly, Iran has consistently called al-Qaeda a terrorist organization. It has denied any cooperation in a way that conveys disgust at the idea of associating with such radical Sunnis.

One of the great debates that came out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was whether Iran and al-Qaeda had cooperated in them.

But some things have changed in the debate since 9/11.


Joe Truzman: Analysis: A History of Targeted Killings Attributed to the Mossad
The New York Times revealed on Nov. 13 that Israeli operatives, at the behest of the United States, killed Abu Muhammad al-Masri, a senior Al Qaeda leader in the line of succession on Aug. 7 in Tehran. The killing of al-Masri by Israeli operatives follows a decades old pattern of targeted killings by the Mossad.

FDD’s Long War Journal has compiled the following list of notable targeted killings attributed to the Mossad.

Abu Muhammad al-Masri and Maryam al-Masri
A tweet by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency on Aug. 7, reported that an “Arabic-speaking father and daughter” were shot and killed in their vehicle on Pasadran street in Tehran, Iran.

A little over three months later, The New York Times revealed the pair killed in Tehran were Al Qaeda’s Abu Muhammad al-Masri and his daughter Maryam al-Masri, the widow of Hamza bin-Laden, the son of former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin-Laden.

According to the report, the pair were killed when two gunmen on a motorcycle pulled up beside the vehicle al-Masri was driving and fired five shots from a pistol fitted with a silencer.

Additionally, Israel’s News Channel 12 shed light on why Israel became involved in al-Masri’s killing.

Citing Western intelligence sources, al-Masri planned to “attack Israeli and Jewish targets.” The killing of al-Masri was a “clean operation that was carried out without incident,” the Channel 12 report stated.

Fadi al-Batsh
In Apr. 2018, Fadi al-Batsh, a Palestinian engineer and member of Hamas, was killed when two men on a motorcycle fired approximately one dozen shots at him as he walked down a street in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lampur.

According to information obtained by The Times, al-Batsh was part of a “training and fundraising network operated from Gaza by Hamas, whose network stretches across the world and has a presence in the UK.”

Additionally, the money raised by the network was funneled to Gaza and the West Bank for Hamas’ military wing al-Qassam Brigades to operate against Israeli targets.
BBC News uncritically amplifies Iranian government statement
Readers were also informed that:

“…Iran’s foreign ministry denied the report on Saturday, saying: “From time to time, Washington and Tel Aviv try to tie Iran to such groups by lying and leaking false information to the media in order to avoid responsibility for the criminal activities of this group and other terrorist groups in the region.”

The BBC also added its own comment:
“Any link between Iran and al-Qaeda would be highly unusual – the two sides have fought each other in conflicts, and represent the two main and sometimes opposing groups of Islam – Iran is largely Shia Muslim, while al-Qaeda is a Sunni jihadist group.”

The BBC refrained however from reminding readers that Iran supports and finances Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – both Sunni groups.

So are there in fact any Al Qaeda members living in Iran? The Washington Post (using one of Abdullah’s aliases) made considerably more of an effort to clarify for its readers the facts behind the Iranian claim that there are not than did the BBC News website.

“Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocracy whose ideology is at odds with that of Sunni Islamic groups such as al-Qaeda, has long denied it has harbored al-Qaeda, though top leaders such as Masri fled from Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks and sought refuge there. The Washington Post first reported in 2003 that Masri was in Iran. […]

Many of al-Qaeda’s senior commanders have been sheltered in Iran, though one by one, they have been killed in recent years. With Masri’s death, the only remaining member of al-Qaeda’s shura council — its core leadership — with operational al-Qaeda terrorist experience is Saif al-Adel, who is believed still to be in Iran.”





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