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Washington finally discovered who’s behind al-Qaeda

The U.S. mocked our story that Iran is a major party in al-Qaeda’s activities. The U.S. described such opinions as ridiculous and malicious

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The U.S. Treasury dropped a bomb when it announced a series of sanctions against Iran for its involvement in activities carried out in Syria by al-Qaeda, its military wing Jabhat al-Nusra and its representative Yassine al-Souri. The U.S. Treasury exposed how funding by Kuwaiti fools is being delivered to al-Souri in Iran and transferred on to Syria.

If most Sunni Muslims realized the truth about al-Qaeda and that it is linked to Iran, it would quickly collapse. What happened to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) over the past few weeks in Syria is proof that al-Qaeda could be toppled in the same way. The ISIS was viewed as a heroic organization in the eyes of the Sunni extremists due to its fierce fighting against Assad’s forces. However, it became a loathed organization after the media revealed that it is being run by the Assad regime and it targets opposition forces by assassinating them and occupying their territories. Al-Qaeda would lose its ideological legitimacy and funding if it is proven to be linked to Iran. But is this really the case?

We decline to imagine that a link could be formed between the terrorist Sunni al-Qaeda organization and the extremist Shiite Iranian regime. What is ironic is that during al-Qaeda’s initial years, suspicion and accusations were primarily directed at Saudi Arabia as it is seen as the representative of Sunni Islam and the most strict Muslim country in implementing shariah law. Also, Saudi citizen Osama bin Laden led the al-Qaeda organization.

Arousing suspicion

Suspicion was aroused after 16 Saudis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Before that, there was a history of links between Saudis and jihadist work in Afghanistan. In addition to that, some Saudis had been involved in daawa, propaganda and the collection of donations for jihad activities by al-Qaeda in the past.

The U.S. mocked our story that Iran is a major party in al-Qaeda’s activities. The U.S. described such opinions as ridiculous and malicious

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

However, with the passing of time, new events have surprised us with news to the contrary. During the years in which al-Qaeda was active in Iraq, it seemed strange that al-Qaeda’s targets were synonymous Iran’s targets against Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, the U.S. and Europe! There was information that Iran was hosting dozens of al-Qaeda members who fled Afghanistan after the Americans attacked the organization there. The Iranian government did not deny that but it alleged that Seif al-Adel, bin Laden’s son, and Suleiman Abu Ghaith were in detention.

In later years, information gleaned from information available via detainees’ testimonies and via monitoring al-Qaeda’s activity and contacts led the region’s countries to become more convinced that the Iranian and Syrian regimes are behind a lot of al-Qaeda’s operations.

Mocking our story

The U.S. mocked our story that Iran is a major party in al-Qaeda’s activities. The U.S. described such opinions as ridiculous and malicious, alleging that we want to collect our rivals - Iran, Assad and al-Qaeda - in one basket!

The westerners could not grasp the idea that an extremist Sunni group could ally or work with an extremist Shiite regime. They are right to find this allegation difficult to understand because it’s tantamount to saying that the U.S. runs and finances communist groups! Since I have written a lot about this subject - that is the suspicion relation - I will only repeat that in our region, it’s very important to be open-minded towards all possibilities. The Syrian and the Iranian regimes used Islamic Sunni groups, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon, and they also supported opposition Sunni groups in the Gulf. This is the reality in the Middle East, despite the contradiction between the aims and the means. The U.S. Treasury’s decisions, with their interesting details, are not just boycott lists and financial sanctions but an important condemnation of al-Qaeda. Such decisions must be the first step towards correcting the path of war against terrorism.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 10, 2014.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.