19 Mar 2008

No Gaffe

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THE MSM (example: New York Times) pounced when, on a recent trip to the Middle East, in Amman Jordan, Senator John McCain heretically spoke of Iran providing training and financing for al Qaeda.

Thomas Joscelyn debunks the well-known liberal meme about how it’s absolutely impossible for Shiites and Sunni to make common cause against unbelievers.

• Earlier this month, the U.S. military and the current head of Iraqi intelligence reported that Iran has been targeting al Qaeda’s enemies–not al Qaeda itself–inside Iraq. There have also been a number of reports on Iran’s support for al Qaeda in Iraq. The Kurds have routinely complained about Iran’s support for al Qaeda’s affiliate, Ansar al-Islam. For more on Ansar al-Islam’s ties to Iran, and other bad actors, see Dan Darling’s excellent primer. As Darling wrote: “Another apparent relationship exists between Ansar and radical elements of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which seeks to use Ansar as a proxy force against the Coalition in Iraq.”

• More generally, the theological differences between Iran and al Qaeda have never been a serious impediment to cooperation. For example, I wrote a lengthy essay on the topic of Iran’s cooperation with al Qaeda going back to the early 1990’s. And in a recent piece, I detailed the evidence cooperation between Iran’s chief terrorist, the late Imad Mugniyah, and al Qaeda.

• The 9-11 Commission found extensive evidence of collaboration between Iran and al Qaeda. For example, the Commission concluded (p. 61): “The relationship between al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations.”

• The Clinton administration recognized the relationship between al Qaeda, Iran, and Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Here is, in part, what the Clinton administration charged in its indictment of al Qaeda following the August 1998 embassy bombings: “USAMA BIN LADEN, the defendant, and al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hizballah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.”

• The mainstream media, including the Washington Post itself, has reported on Iran’s ties to al Qaeda. But now a blog hosted by the Washington Post dismisses the idea that the two could collaborate.

John McCain was right the first time. He shouldn’t have taken his comment back. But this whole imbroglio shows just how much ignorance there is concerning our terrorist enemies.

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