Bin Laden docs show that alleged Iran-Al Qaeda alliance is neocon hype

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 17 Comments
Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the
Defense of Democracies

As part of their quest for a military solution to Iran’s nuclear program, asserting a strong Iran-Al Qaeda connection became a staple of neoconservative thought. But new documents released yesterday by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), picked up by US special forces during the raid on bin Laden, show a much more complicated, and antagonistic, relationship.

As Ali Gharib notes at Think Progress, the Weekly Standard has printed Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies three times in the past two months, all of them articles on the Al Qaeda-Iran connection.

“Al Qaeda has a substantial network inside Iran,” Joscelyn asserts in one article. He also correctly cites the fact that the Treasury Department under the Obama administration has likewise said that there is an Iranian “alliance with al Qaeda.” (As Mondoweiss has reported, until January 2011, the Treasury Department’s main official on Iran was Stuart Levey, a holdover from the Bush administration with strong ties to the Israel lobby. After Levey left the Obama administration, the main official on Iran and sanctions in the department became David Cohen, Levey’s former law partner.)

Juan Cole does the digging through the documents. Turns out the neoconservatives –surprise!–are wrong:

The documents show that Bin Laden did not like or trust Iran, that al-Qaeda members who fled to Iran were surprised when they were rounded up and arrested by Iranian authorities, that they were dismayed when Iran started sending them back to their home countries, and that they felt that Iran often lied to them. They called Shiites “rawafid,” a nasty epithet used by Sunnis who don’t like Shiites very much.

They also show that sometimes al-Qaeda could get Iran to release its members, but hardly because they both hate the US and Israel. It was by mafia-like tactics such as kidnapping and threatening Iranian diplomatic personnel abroad (e.g. the consul at Peshawar) that al-Qaeda got a tiny bit of leverage over Tehran.

Al Monitor‘s Barbara Slavin also has more background. Turns out the Obama administration has also been misleading:

Iran and the group that became al-Qaeda have had some sort of ties for more than two decades, but the nature of the relationship has been subject to considerable speculation and hype. The newly released documents suggest that the two are largely antagonistic and underline the view that the George W. Bush administration missed what could have been a major opportunity to work with Iran against the Sunni militant group responsible for the 9-11 attacks.

The report also suggests that the Barack Obama administration may have overstated the case when the U.S. Treasury Department designated Iran last July 28 for having a “secret deal with al-Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory.”

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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17 Responses

  1. BillM
    May 4, 2012, 2:04 pm

    No shock there, but great job documenting the lies.

    Separately, I haven’t noticed anyone commenting on what strikes me as the biggest story today. Over on, the first 3 words read:

    “Israel’s atomic arsenal…”

    That’s a pretty bold statement for the military censor to allow in country that still doesn’t officially acknowledge its nuclear arsenal (in passing, the lead editorial on Ynet also threatens to destroy Iran with submarine launched nuclear weapons, albeit with the more traditional oblique language). This is to some extent just part of a steady move to a more open acknowledgement of Israel’s nukes, but this statement is by far the open and direct I’ve yet seen. It marks a very important turning point as Israel continues to lose geopolitical ground: the treaty with Egypt is slowly dissolving, pressure on Iran is hurting it but not forcing any fundamental change and Israel’s much desired war seems to be receding, Turkey is settling into its role as an anti-Israel rallying point, even Jordanians are denouncing their treaty with Israel by the thousands.

    Israel’s confidence in its military and political dominance of the region has been shaken substantially. It is now in the process of taking the big gun that it always kept in its back pocket (sure that it had other, more useable tools to do any job) and laying it on the table.

    • ritzl
      May 4, 2012, 9:09 pm

      On that note, it was funny-sad, in an ironic and unintentionally self-mocking sense, to read Barak’s recent breathless exclamation about nukes in the hands of an unstable regime in the middle of an unstable region being a bad thing, implicitly (and just shy, as usual, of explicitly) worthy of war.

      “Just imagine the most unstable elements in the hands of the most unstable regime in one of the most unstable regions of the world,” he warned. …

      I read it here first, but from the NYT:

      A friend once said that there is little, if any, self-awareness in the rhetorical claims offered in support of letting Israel do whatever it wants to do. True dat, and we see it at MW from the resident hasbaratchiks. That/their continuing divergence from reality (and/or complete reliance on what has worked so well in the past) will be a major contributor to the collapse of the predominant “more-more-more (more-more-and-even-more)” strain of modern Zionism. People just see right through it if exposed to it for more than the time it takes to scratch your head and ponder for a brief moment.

    • CigarGod
      May 5, 2012, 9:55 am

      So, you are saying that there is an Israel Spring happening?

  2. Annie Robbins
    May 4, 2012, 3:41 pm

    the concept built up about who AQ is, for the american public in a nutshell, imho, is very much about rolling as much possible into one neat package and using that identifier as ‘ terrorist/fear’. so anytime maximum fear is applied for propaganda purposes it’s disseminated by means of the identifier.

    just yesterday in another thread i linked to this excellent transcript: Gen. John R. Allen, COMISAF, House Committee on Armed Services March.20.2012

    it’s long but worthwhile. note the questions re the taliban and iran vs the questions about china. there’s just not that much there yet this testimony was used by the nyt(some neocon writer, sorry should have taken better notes) in order to ratchet up the fear about iran. so i looked for the transcript to see if the context was thwarted, and it was. to read this and extract info alleging iran is a problem for us in afghanistan, or pakistan for that matter, is absurd. yet clearly certain congress leaders were hoping for more. so we’ve known for a long long time the ammunition just isn’t there. this is why the military is not interested in war with iran.

  3. radii
    May 4, 2012, 3:48 pm

    if lies told by neocons were subject to indictments and grounds for arrest, there would literally be hundreds of people in handcuffs taking perp-walks and thousands of indictments and we’d forget the Gang-of-Four and Chicago Seven and instead be talking about the Neocon Thirty

  4. Charon
    May 4, 2012, 3:55 pm

    What convenient timing for these documents to surface. Just a year after Osama was ‘killed’ and right after Obama gives a speech about ‘Al Qaeda’ being pretty much a non-issue. The neocons need their faceless boogeyman in order to continue the ‘war on terror’ perpetually (and take it to Iran).

    This reveal just insults our intelligence. I have no idea what went on in that raid last year, but the Pakistanis say that the American helicopter exploded on take off and there were corpses on the lawn. And the chopper did explode. Also, sveral of the involved SEAL team six died in a chopper crash a few months afterwards. And that one video they showed of ‘Osama’ from behind watching ‘himself’ on TV was all sorts of laughable. I feel sorry for the kool aid drinkers. This is just one story where the fringe media are definitely right.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 4, 2012, 4:19 pm

      re the timing charon, the iran negotiation games have begun. this period between istanbul and the next meeting in baghdad (may 23rd) is crucial. the US is leaking stuff like a sieve and Israeli official tours Europe in attempt to influence Iran talks:

      so, imho, this is the military throwing in their 2 cents worth.

      • ToivoS
        May 4, 2012, 7:24 pm

        Annie, good call. I agree that the military is going to do its best to preserve the negotiation process with the Iranians. I suspect they started to get real worried that Israel was going to provoke a war and they will continue to work hard to prevent Israel and their plants here to do so.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 4, 2012, 8:07 pm

        thnx toivoS

  5. Bumblebye
    May 4, 2012, 5:31 pm

    “O Lordy, lordy. So there’s Bin Laden, hiding in Abbottabad and he’s waffling on about Fisk”

  6. DICKERSON3870
    May 4, 2012, 6:04 pm

    RE: “the Weekly Standard has printed Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies three times in the past two months, all of them articles on the Al Qaeda-Iran connection.” ~ Alex Kane

    MY COMMENT: Thomas Joscelyn of the (proto-fascist) Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is also becoming a regular on the PBS Newshour.
    It will not surprise me if in 10-20 years, the majority of PBS viewers are right-wing Jews and Christian fundamentalists (i.e. hardcore Zionists).

  7. Shingo
    May 4, 2012, 7:39 pm

    Neocons have been wrong about everything:

    Wrong about Iraq WMD
    Wrong about Saddam links to AQ and 911
    Wrong about instasling demicracy in Iraq
    Wrong about Iraq being a cakewalk
    Wrong about Iran nukes
    Wrong about everything

    So why are these lunatics still being given a soap box?

    • CigarGod
      May 5, 2012, 10:06 am

      Because they are right about one thing: Rednecks and Zionists will always take the bait…as long as they don’t have to use their brains to do it.

  8. CloakAndDagger
    May 4, 2012, 7:45 pm

    I bet that despite this revelation, the majority of Americans will continue to believe the original hype. Its enough to pull all my hair out!

  9. optimax
    May 4, 2012, 9:33 pm

    Here’s another quote from Juan Cole’s blog:

    “It isn’t just recently that a completely implausible cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran was alleged. Among the first books about al-Qaeda was that of Yosef Bodansky, an Israeli security studies specialist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004. His 1999 book on Usama Bin Laden manages to blame al-Qaeda at some points on both Iran and Iraq (neither is actually implicated). It seems to me fairly obvious that Bodansky is an Israel-firster propagandist and that AIPAC circles managed to plant him in an extremely influential position in Congress from which he could spin his fantasies. He clearly worked for US wars on both Iraq and Iran by attempting to hang Bin Laden around their necks.”

    Hopefully the Israeli and neocon influence is waning in the Obama administration. So it seems. The problem is if Romney wins and allows himself to get sucked into another war. This time with Iran.

  10. Robert
    May 4, 2012, 11:06 pm

    This article about Al Qaeda nibbles around the edges of a huge and shocking truth: Osama Bin Laden died in Dec. 2001 after having been visited by the CIA station chief in Dubai (Source: Le Figaro and CBS News). It is further apparent, from looking at circumstantial evidence and events, that *he never stopped working for the CIA*. Al Qaeda, as such, is a sham and a source of untraceable, unreportable, false-flag terror that maintains CIA and military budgets, and a war footing.

    Just as Mondoweiss is a life-changing blog-discussion, I have found another one: This is the blog of Christopher Bollyn, who has done a great deal of independent research and reporting regarding 9/11.

    A word to Dickerson3870: I rebutted you pretty strongly 9 months ago, regarding the Mossad and 9/11. After reading Bollyn’s blog, I’m now convinced. You were right.

  11. talknic
    May 5, 2012, 4:09 am

    You can never tie up the loose ends of a lie

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