Hawks in Washington have repeatedly tried to tie the two together
In an attempt to incriminate the Iranian regime and rally support for war, several of America’s most hawkish leaders and commentators haverepeatedly recycled the unsubstantiated claim thatTehran has had a cooperative relationship with al-Qaeda. The claims were always dubious – and embarrassingly reminiscent of similar lies in the case of Iraq – but now they’ve been even more firmly disproven.
The U.S. government decided this week to release hundreds of pages of documents and correspondence they obtained in the night raid of bin Laden’s home in Pakistan a year ago. And they reveal a fractious relationship that leaves no room for any operational cooperation, never mind friendly ties.
“The documents suggest that the relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran was antagonistic, dominated by indirect negotiations over the release of jihadis and their families detained in Iran,” said Lieutenant Colonel Liam Collins, director of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a co-author of an analysis of the confiscated documents published by the center on Thursday.
It had been known that several al-Qaeda members and members of bin Laden’s family had been held – detained, actually, some without charge or trial -in Iranian prisons. Al-Qaeda had actually threatened to attack Iran unless they released these people.
One of bin Laden’s sons who had been held in Iran, Saad, was reportedly killed after a belated release in 2009. This led bin Laden to advise an associate to keep safe a letter from Saad that, in bin Laden’s words “reveals about the truth of the Iranian regime.”