This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which killed 3,000 people and changed the course of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. After a decade and half, much has changed in the world in regards to the global fight against terrorism and much of it not in a good way.
At the center of the shifting sands of terrorism lies the Iranian regime. Its enabling role in much of the terror, death and destruction that has raged across the region over the last 15 years has been documented, but not fully appreciated by the world until lately.
One of those shedding a light on the regime’s role in terror, especially in the 9/11 attacks, is former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chair of United Against Nuclear Iran, who wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal examining Iran’s role.
“A key al Qaeda partner, Iran, has never been held responsible for its enabling role—even though the 9/11 Commission found 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,’” Lieberman writes.
Lieberman notes correctly that although the U.S. State Department says Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, the regime is willing to work with extremists of the Sunni sect in the Arab world and elsewhere—even though it views itself as the vanguard of the world’s Shiite community. Iran is aiding both Sunni and Shiite terror organizations—including Sunni Hamas and Sunni Islamic Jihad, and Shiite Hezbollah and Shiite Iraqi militias.
For the mullahs in Tehran, terrorism is an equal opportunity vocation that knows no religious boundaries.
He details the long road Osama bin Laden took in developing a relationship with Iran that started Sudan in the 1990s with a meeting with Sheikh Nomani, an emissary of Iran who “had access to the highest echelons of power in Tehran.”
The Washington Institute’s Matthew Levitt and Michael Jacobson concluded, “Iran and al-Qaeda reached an informal agreement to cooperate, with Iran providing critical explosives, intelligence, and security training to bin Laden’s organization.” Because Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) already supported Hezbollah operationally and financially, a vehicle was in place through which they could support and influence al Qaeda.
“After 9/11, Iran became a more important haven for al Qaeda fighters who fled from Afghanistan as the Taliban collapsed,” Lieberman said. “Iran regularly granted the terrorists freedom to move within Iran and to cross into Iraq and Afghanistan to carry out attacks. From their safe base in Iran, al Qaeda members planned terrorist operations, including the 2003 attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that killed 26 people, including eight Americans, and the 2008 attack on the American Embassy in Yemen that claimed 16 lives, including six terrorists.”
Newly declassified letters captured in the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden reveal how crucial Iran has been to al Qaeda. In a 2007 letter, bin Laden directed al Qaeda not to target Iran because “Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication,” Lieberman added.
The fact that the Iranian regime has waged a destabilizing war against its neighbors and the U.S. for decades has somehow been glossed over and ignored by the Iran lobby which pushes the idiotic theory that the mullahs are somehow going to change their ways and embrace pluralistic democracy, joining hands and singing songs.
Nothing illustrates the mullahs desire to confront the U.S. in every way as yet another incident occurred in the Persian Gulf as another IRGC fast-attack craft came within 100 yards of a U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship, forcing it to change course this week.
It was at least the fourth such incident in less than a month and demonstrates an escalation in the confrontations ordered by the mullahs in what is becoming an increasingly dangerous game of high seas saber rattling.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the Iranian vessel sailed directly in front of the USS Firebolt, forcing the 174-foot (53-metre) U.S. ship to change course.
The incident began when seven Iranian ships “harassed” the Firebolt, Davis said.
A U.S. Defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the interaction was “unsafe and unprofessional due to lack of communications and the close-range harassing maneuvering,” adding that uncovered and manned weapons were seen on the Iranian vessel.
The U.S. official said there have been 31 similar interactions with Iranian ships this year, almost double the amount from the same period last year.
The sharp increase in incidents shows how feeble the arguments made by the Iran lobby were in promising a more moderate Iran put forth by regime supporters such as Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council.
All of which makes news of the Obama administration completing its $1.7 billion cash payment to the Iranian regime all the more dubious considering the regime is more than likely using the funds to replenish the coffers of its terrorist clients such as Hezbollah in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen.
Ultimately, given the Iranian regime’s deep and long history of terrorist support, including its relationship with Al-Qaeda, this 9/11 anniversary deserves recognition of the mullahs’ role in supporting terrorism.
By Laura Carnahan