The recently released CIA bin Laden files provide new details concerning al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran.
One never-before-seen 19-page document contains a senior militant’s assessment of the group’s relationship with Iran, the Foundation for Defense of Democracy’s Long War Journal reported.
The author explains that Iran offered some “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”
Iranian intelligence facilitated the travel of some operatives with visas, while sheltering others.
Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, an influential ideologue prior to 9/11, helped negotiate a safe haven for his jihadi comrades inside Iran. But the author of the file, who is clearly well-connected, indicates that al Qaeda’s men violated the terms of the agreement and Iran eventually cracked down on the Sunni jihadists’ network, detaining some personnel.
Still, the author explains that al-Qaeda is not at war with Iran and some of their “interests intersect,” especially when it comes to being an “enemy of America.”
Bin Laden’s files show the two sides have had heated disagreements. There has been hostility between the two. Al-Qaeda even penned a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei demanding the release of family members held in Iranian custody.
Other files show that al-Qaeda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat to exchange for its men and women. Bin Laden himself considered plans to counter Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East, which he viewed as pernicious.
However, bin Laden urged caution when it came to threatening Iran. In a previously released letter, bin Laden described Iran as al-Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” And despite their differences, Iran continued to provide crucial support for al-Qaeda’s operations.
In a series of designations and other official statements issued since July 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly targeted al-Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline” inside Iran.
Sources familiar with the intelligence used to justify those designations say they are based, in part, on the Abbottabad files. It is likely that still more revelations concerning al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran remain to be found in the cache made available today the FDD stated.