26 juli 2005

Disturbing (The Flemish Beerdrinker)

The new paradigma about al-qaeda is that it is nothing more than a source of inspiration for a diverse array of other groups and networks of muslim terrorists. Via Brad Plumer I come accross this post of terrorism expert Dan Darling showing that al-qaeda is even now more centralised than many people assume. Plumer does a good job describing these two positions. The thesis that al-qaeda still is a well-functioning centralised organisation is bolstered by this press report about the bombings in London and Egypt:

The back-to-back nature of the deadly attacks in Egypt and London, as well as similarities in the methods used, suggests that the al Qaeda leadership may have given the orders for both operations and is a clear sign that Osama bin Laden and his deputies remain in control of the network, according to interviews with counterterrorism analysts and government officials in Europe and the Middle East. Investigators on Saturday said that they believed the details of the bombing plots in Egypt and Britain -- the deadliest terrorist strikes in each country’s history -- were organized locally by groups working independently of each other. In Sharm el-Sheikh, where the death toll rose to 88 people, attention centered on an al Qaeda affiliate blamed for a similar attack last October at Taba, another Red Sea resort. In London, where 52 bystanders were killed in the subway and on a bus, police have identified three of the four presumed suicide bombers as British natives with suspected connections to Pakistani radicals.

The report points in the direction of Pakistan where in recent years many al-qaeda leader where captured not just on the border, bu in major cities. According to a terrorism analyst "the whole backbone of the jihadi instrastructure (...) is still functioning". Darling on the other hand also points to Iran. He writes that the 20-25 members of the al-Qaeda ruling council now appears to be based in Iran. And this report says that al-Zarqawi, who is now killing shi’its in Irak, was allowed to operate from Iran (possibly so long as the U.S. was the target). How far the relationship between the Iranian regime and the al-qaeda leadership goes is far from clear however. Bradford Plumer writes in a comment that it is a mystery. He also talked with Ken Pollack, who with this book, made the case for war against Saddam Huessein:

Iran’s support for al-Qaeda is something of a mystery. Darling thinks it’s active support by certain factions. Ken Pollack has told me that it’s just a matter of Iran not wanting to deal with the problem and hence doing nothing. Dan seems more convincing on this question, but I really don’t know.

Whatever the case we surely have here another indictment of the Iranian regime. So what to think of this then?

(Iraqi Prime Minister) Jaafari welcomed the signing of agreements to improve cooperation in areas ranging from security to Iraq’s serious shortage of refined fuel, as he prepared to board a plane for the northeastern city of Meshhad for closing talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Against the background of Iran’s condoning of terrorists like al-Zarqawi it surely seems mindboggling that the Iraqi government is striving to coöperate with the current Iranian regime. Of course those terrorists can be portrayed - as some in the West do - as a insurgence against the so-called American occupation. But they aren’t. Jafaari is signing an agreement with a government at the least providing a safe haven for radical sunni terrorists killing Iraqi’s and Shi’its. Disturbing.

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