Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the first American politician to openly charge Iran with providing support for al-Qaeda, though the matter was not news to Congress. A recently released CIA report indicates that Iran has allowed al-Qaeda to plot against the US from its territory.
Iran and al-Qaeda have collaborated covertly since the early 1990s in Sudan, and the relationship continued after al-Qaeda relocated to Afghanistan. The group was present on Iranian soil before, during, and after the 9/11 attacks. Since 2001, senior leaders on al-Qaeda’s management council have resided in Iran. Al-Qaeda uses Iran as a facilitation, finance, and transport hub using Muslim Brotherhood-led institutions, such as the Islamic Development Bank, to supply illicit funding. From this sanctuary, al-Qaeda ordered attacks against Westerners in Saudi Arabia in 2003.
The US government has consistently assumed the Islamic regime would not allow al-Qaeda to plot against the US from within Iranian borders, but this assumption is belied by the evidence.
In the mid-1990s, Iran allowed many al -Qaeda members safe transit through its territory to Afghanistan. Iranian border guards were instructed not to stamp their passports to prevent their home governments from suspecting that they had traveled to Afghanistan. Rohan Gunaratna reported in his book Inside Al -Qaeda: Global Network of Terror that that between 1996 and 1998, nearly 10% of Osama bin Laden’s outgoing calls were to Iran.
In 2011, federal judge John D. Bates issued a default judgment finding Iran and Sudan culpable for al- Qaeda’s bombings in 1998 of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. “Iran had been the preeminent state of terrorism against US interests for decades,” he said. According to his ruling, “The government of Iran aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama bin Laden, and al- Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs.”
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