Two individuals linked to the Al-Qaeda network in Iran have been arrested in Canada, foiling a plot to derail a train from New York to Toronto. Though Canadian officials and media reports emphasize that there’s no evidence tying the Iranian regime to the plot, the Obama Administration confirmed in 2011 that Iran and Al-Qaeda had a “secret deal.”
“The individuals were receiving support from Al-Qaeda elements located in Iran,” said Royal Canadian Mounted Police official James Malizia.
[ad] An anonymous U.S. official influenced press coverage by telling Reuters that the Iranian regime does not protect the Al-Qaeda network in its territory. The official apparently believes the Iranian regime is capable of preventing another Green Revolution but is somehow unable to round up an Al-Qaeda network that the U.S. government has publicly identified.
In July 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department said, “By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al-Qaeda, allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.” It said that the Al-Qaeda network in Iran serves as a “core pipeline” for the terrorist group to move personnel and resources from the Middle East to South Asia.
The leadership in Iran has been referred to as one of Al-Qaeda’s “Management Councils.” The network has been active in Iran since at least 2005. Al-Qaeda members in Iran are permitted to operate with restrictions. Terrorism expert Peter Bergen said it “was kept more or less under control by the Iranian government, which viewed it with suspicion.”
The U.S. government has sanctioned the two leaders of the Iran-based Al-Qaeda network: Muhsin al-Fadhil and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi. The former took over the network after being released from Iranian detention. Al-Harbi is involved in Internet operations and oversees the movement of Al-Qaeda personnel and supplies to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Curiously, the Saudi national originally questioned for possible involvement in the Boston bombings may be related to Al-Harbi. The Saudi, Abdul Rahman Ali Al-Harbi, is also reportedly on a terrorist watch list. The FBI raided his apartment with his permission and cleared him in the investigation. “Scores” of Al-Harbi clan members have been involved with Al-Qaeda.
After the Saudi was cleared and released, it was reported that the U.S. government planned to deport him under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s Section 212, 3B that is related to terrorist activity.
The decision to deport, rather than prosecute, was attributed by some to the influence of the Saudi Royal Family. Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Saudi Foreign Minister the day after Al-Harbi was named a “person of interest.” The following day, President Obama had an unscheduled meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister and Ambassador.
The Blaze reports that “Alharbi’s file was altered early Wednesday evening to disassociate him from the initial charges.”
The Iranian government connection’s to the Al-Qaeda network in its country is now a rare example of bipartisan agreement. The Iranian regime may or may not have been involved in the plot operationally, but that does not absolve it of responsibility, as many reports in the media are doing. Meanwhile, the questions surrounding the Saudi national–and his possible ties to this Al-Qaeda network–linger.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.
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