Al Qaeda Leadership in Iran?!
The National Intelligence Estimate reportedly finds that the Salafist Sunni terrorist group al Qaeda has been reconstituted in Shiite theocracy of Iran.
One of two known Al Qaeda leadership councils meets regularly in eastern Iran, where the American intelligence community believes dozens of senior Al Qaeda leaders have reconstituted a good part of the terror conglomerate’s senior leadership structure. That is a consensus judgment from a final working draft of a new National Intelligence Estimate, titled “The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” on the organization that attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The estimate, which represents the opinion of America’s intelligence agencies, is now finished, and unclassified conclusions will be shared today with the public.
The judgment that Iran has hosted Al Qaeda’s senior leadership council is likely to draw some criticism from those outside the government who doubt Iran plays a significant role in bolstering Sunni jihadist terrorism. Iran’s Shiite Muslims are considered infidels by the Salafi sect of Sunnis that comprise Al Qaeda.
While there is little disagreement that a branch of Al Qaeda’s leadership operates in Iran, the intelligence community diverges on the extent to which the hosting of the senior leaders represents a policy of the regime in Tehran or the rogue actions of Iran’s Quds Force, the terrorist support units that report directly to Iran’s supreme leader.
While Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups have worked together in Iraq and elsewhere under the age-old concept that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” this one may be a bit hard to swallow. Still, as Noah Pollak points out, the Iranian regime has been quite flexible in this regard:
It is long past time that one important piece of fantastical rubbish be finally sent on its way: this is the idea that Islamists maintain some kind of fastidious ethnic and theological separatism when it comes to who they’re willing to work with on killing people. The co-option of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Sunni Arab) by Iran (Shia Persian) is one piece of reality that intrudes on this comforting notion; so is the Iran-Syria alliance, along with the reality of Iranian support for both Shia and Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
We’ll see. The American intelligence community has taken enough hits the last few years that many will naturally view their findings with a great deal of skepticism.