2003 May 31 Saturday
Reuel Marc Gerecht On Whether Iranian Regime Supports Al Qaeda

Former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht examines the very important question of whether the Iranian government is tolerating the operation of Al Qaeda cells in Iran.

Nonetheless, when Tehran wants to make a show of force in any region, it can deploy forces fairly quickly. Also, the internal informant network in clerical Iran, though not nearly as effective as in Saddam's Stalinist Iraq, is good. It is just not credible that Arabic-speaking members of al Qaeda could sustain themselves for any length of time in Kurdistan or Baluchistan (where Arabic speakers are few) without Iran's internal security services getting wind of their presence. Why local Iranian Kurds or Baluchis would want to aid a foreign Arab group like al Qaeda is another question. Fleeing members of al Qaeda are probably not cash-rich, their drug-trade utility since the fall of the Taliban must at best be marginal, and the Kurds and the Baluchis would obviously not want to incur Tehran's wrath or closer supervision for foreign holy warriors unrelated by blood. If Tehran didn't mind al Qaeda in Baluchistan or Kurdistan, then the local reaction would, of course, be different.

This is an article well worth reading in full. The United States faces two big questions on Iran: A) Is Iran trying to develop nuclear weapons? and B) Is the Iranian government providing refuge and an environment which Al Qaeda and or other terrorist groups can use to help them strike at American and other Western targets? The answer to the first question is clearly Yes. Much is known about the nuclear facilities at Natanz and Bushehr. It would be ridiculous to argue that these facilities are not being built to enable nuclear bomb construction.

But the second question is much harder to judge. Certainly the Iranian regime has a track record of state support for terrorism. The regime has even supported attacks against American targets. But is the regime providing sanctuary to Al Qaeda operatives? If it is then the United States can not let Iran get away with it. There is too much at stake in the larger fight against Al Qaeda. Gerecht provides a lot of useful background for anyone who wants to form a judgement on the question.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 31 11:51 PM  Axis Of Evil


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