Last week the CIA released a treasure trove of documents from Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad residence. One of those documents had a number of insights from an Al-Qaeda brother alerting Osama Bin Laden to what was occurring with the brothers who had traveled to Iran to escape the Americans invasion of Afghanistan. The author of this document highlights what was occurring with Iran. None of the observations are a surprise but shows how Al-Qaeda and Iran operated during this period. The statements and the actions of Iran are also important for Americans to understand as we deal with Iran in the future. The below in italics are just a sample taken from the document.
Anyone who wants to hit America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with money
. . . . but they are afraid of any evidence in the hands of America.
Al-Qaeda after the US military invasion of Afghanistan sought to exploit Sun Tzu’s old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Al-Qaeda sent Mahfouz Ould al-Walid (Abu Hafs the Mauritanian) to Iran to reach out to IRGC and Al-Quds Forces to see if Al-Qaeda could move fighters and their families to Iran. This was not the first time that Abu Hafs had been to Iran. In 1995, Abu Hafs had accompanied Saif al-Adel to Tehran on another matter.
Three months later we came to the orders of the brothers to go to Iran, and there was a lot of brothers.
Some of them with official visas where they took the visa from the Iranian consulate in Karachi.
Some of them without an original visa, then all after that or most of them entered by a different route legal, i.e. smuggling and cross-border infiltration, which is not difficult but is easy.
But the purpose of the visa is to be in the passport etc. visa even if he wants to travel from Iran to another country, then he can do so easily, which many have done.
The mandate of Abu Hafs was that he would have the understanding with the Iranians to allow for our brothers to cross and stay in the country.
As Sun Tzu stated “All warfare is based on deception. Deceiving the Americans and the world would be important for both the Iranians and Al-Qaeda. The Iranians are Shia and Al-Qaeda’s fighters are all Sunni. One might think that these two opposites would never work together but when it has been convenient they have worked together. What was important to the Iranians was that they would be able to deny that they were offering a safe haven to their American enemy- Al- Qaeda. Abu Hafs would be the Al Qaeda representative in Iran with the understanding with the Iranians.
And they began to speak with Abu Hafs as the official of all the brothers, and included
conditions that the phone should not be used. . . . .
. . . .do not do any activity or movements and gatherings that attract the principals.
All of these were security conditions
The Iranians were worried that Al-Qaeda brothers talking on phones and gathering would attract the attention of the Americans. But others felt safe in Iran and thought that there was no way the US could reach inside of the Islamic Republic of Iran. After all, Iran had been fighting a proxy war against America ever since 1979. The Al-Qaeda brothers felt safe in Iran.
But what happened was that our brothers did not abide by the agreements and Abu Hafs was not able to control them, they were of different nationalities, forms and types of humans.
Including the aggrieved and the anarchists and so on, did not adhere to the condition not to use phones, especially mobile phones. And on the terms of movement and gatherings.
And said the Iranians that the Americans have recorded a lot of your contacts.
… and the brothers came to us and protested to us, and that we harbor the terrorists and so on and your news
. . . this is a danger to us, and we imposed on you our terms from the beginning.
Sun Tzu wrote that foreknowledge was “the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move.” Yet, Al-Qaeda’s brothers had disavowed the agreement and worse had shown contempt for America’s technical capabilities. This could cause the Iranians a bigger problem and they didn’t want to tempt fate after seeing how quickly American has taken over Afghanistan and removed Mullah Omar’s Taliban government. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Whether Iran offered safe haven or house arrests for Al-Qaeda members, fighters and their families-there is no difference. Iran did provide safe havens for members of AL-Qaeda including individuals like Saif-al-Adel and members of Osama bin Laden’s family. Both Iran and Al-Qaeda see America as the great Satan and an enemy. America must never forget this and that often our enemies will work together because their true aims intersect. If the Iranians are willing to provide sanctuary to a terrorist group like Al-Qaeda right after September 11th what else might they undertake? The importance of this can’t be stated any clearer.