Al Qaeda in Iran

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Wall Street Journal – REVIEW & OUTLOOK: The U.S. finally acknowledges the terror connection.

The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. finally acknowledges the terror connection.

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

That there have long been links between al Qaeda and the government of Iran isn’t exactly news.

In 2003, the Washington Post reported on a “decade-old relationship” between al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri and Ahmad Vahidi, now Iran’s minister of defense. In 2004, the 9/11 Commission wrote that “there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.” Throughout the war in Iraq, there was extensive intelligence that Iran was supporting the Mesopotamian branch of al Qaeda, never mind that they were terrorizing the country’s Shiite population.

Yet it was only yesterday that the U.S. government formally acknowledged the connection between the world’s most dangerous terrorist group and the leading state sponsor of terrorism. In a move by the Treasury Department, six members of a terrorist network based in Iran were sanctioned for serving as “the core pipeline through which al Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia,” principally meaning Pakistan and Afghanistan. The leader of the group, Ezedin Abdul Aziz Khalil, is a Syrian who has been operating from Iran under an agreement signed in 2005.

The sanctions will likely have little effect on the terror network, at least so long as its members remain in the Islamic Republic. But at least it ought to put to rest the idea that doctrinal differences all but forbid radical Sunnis to make common cause with radical Shiites. As in politics, terrorism can make strange bedfellows, especially when there’s a shared hatred of the United States.

The Obama Administration has come a long way since the days when it thought it could strike a “grand bargain” with Iran’s mullahs, and yesterday’s move is another good step. Above all, it’s a reminder of why a regime that has no qualms serving as al Qaeda’s facilitator can on no account be permitted to build a nuclear bomb.

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