T Nation

9/11: The Iran Factor

I thought someone might find this article interesting I found it on MSNBC

The final report of the 9-11 Commission reveals troubling new evidence that Tehran was closer to Al Qaeda than Iraq was

The 9/11 report says Iranian government officials may have facilitated terror attacks by helping Al Qaeda members to travel with ‘clean’ passports

By Michael Isikoff and Michael Hirsh
NewsweekJuly 26 issue - The Iranian frontier with Afghanistan is a wild and desolate area of goat farmers and mud-brick huts, the perfect place for illicit opium?and terrorists?to cross the border. But the region is hardly a no man’s land. U.S. intelligence believes that in faraway Tehran, the hard-line Islamist clerics who now exercise near total control over Iran directed their border guards to help jihadists coming from Afghanistan. And sometime between October 2000 and February 2001, according to the forthcoming final report of the 9-11 Commission, eight to 10 of the “muscle” hijackers of the September 11 plot were among those who benefited from this Iranian good-fellowship.

That conclusion?the strongest evidence yet of a relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda?is one of the most surprising findings to emerge in the commission’s report, which is due out this week. According to a December 2001 memo buried in the files of the National Security Agency, obtained by the commission, Iranian officials instructed their border inspectors not to place Iranian or Afghan stamps in the passports of Saudi terrorists traveling from Osama bin Laden’s training camps through Iran. Such “clean” passports undoubtedly helped the 9/11 terrorists pass into the United States without raising alarms among U.S. Customs and visa officials, sources familiar with the report told NEWSWEEK.

The 9-11 Commission report emphasizes there is no evidence suggesting that Iranian officials had advance knowledge of the September 11 plot. Still, the report raises new, sharper questions about whether the Bush administration was focused on the right enemy when it decided to remove Saddam Hussein. The NSA memo adds to a large accumulation of intelligence indicating that Iran has had more suspicious ties to Al Qaeda than Iraq did. Among those who once had a base in Iran: Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, allegedly the No. 1 terrorist in Iraq today. Meanwhile the commission found there was no “collaborative, operational” relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

The 9-11 report will likely encourage some administration hawks who have long sought a harder U.S. line against Iran, the “Axis of Evil” member that has gotten the least attention. But Bush administration officials insist that the Iranian link to Al Qaeda was never clear. They also point to a change of attitude by Tehran since 9/11. Iranian officials claim they have “expelled or repatriated” large numbers of bin Laden followers, and last Saturday the country’s intelligence chief, Ali Yunesi, announced new arrests. Yet other Qaeda suspects?like bin Laden’s son Saad and Saif Al-Adel, once Al Qaeda’s security chief, along with eight others?are believed to still be in Iran, possibly under some kind of protective custody to be used as leverage in future U.S.-Iran talks. According to separate intelligence reports, Qaeda suspects also continue to hide across the border from Afghanistan. “We just don’t have good intelligence about what is going on in Iran,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official. That’s especially true since the Iraqi National Congress allegedly told Iranian officials after the Iraq invasion that U.S. intelligence was listening to their conversations. U.S. officials say that resulted in a devastating loss of monitoring capability.

All these unanswered questions make the 500-plus-page 9-11 Commission report?which was intended as a history of the September 11 plot?more relevant than ever to the future war on terror. Exhaustively researched, the report is described as “a thumping good read” and a blistering critique of the performance of the CIA, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration and a host of other agencies. To correct such failures, the report recommends the creation of a national-intelligence director who would serve as an “intelligence czar” with budgetary authority over the entire U.S. intelligence community. But some administration and intel officials are already deriding the plan as bureaucratic box-drawing.

The 9-11 report is destined to be picked apart by partisans seeking political ammunition against either the Clinton or Bush administrations. The report criticizes both for failing to respond to the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in October 2000, especially in light of multiple intelligence briefings strongly pointing to Qaeda complicity. Among the other new disclosures: Bill Clinton also got a strong warning that bin Laden wanted to hijack planes. On Dec. 4, 1998, Clinton was presented with a President’s Daily Brief (PDB) with the eye-catching title “Bin Laden Preparing to Hijack U.S. Aircraft and other attacks,” NEWSWEEK has learned. The PDB, which has just been declassified, was prompted by a British intelligence report that the son of the Egyptian “blind sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman?who had been convicted of a plot to blow up New York City landmarks?proposed to hijack airplanes and ransom the passengers in exchange for his father’s release. Clinton officials say they acted aggressively, placing New York City airports on maximum alert, but no evidence ever turned up establishing that the plot was real.

Curiously, the same information turned up 20 months later, in the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB presented to President George W. Bush, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” One White House official suggested that the existence of the earlier PDB was evidence that President Bush was never properly informed by the outgoing Clintonites about the full depth of the Qaeda threat. “This was never briefed to us,” said the official about the 1998 PDB. Clinton officials dismiss this, saying the timing of the declassification is likely an effort to blunt criticism that Bush bears primary responsibility for failing to avert 9/11.

Grimly, what the new 9-11 report makes clear is that nearly three years into the war on terror, America is still not close to understanding the enemy. And Washington seems less able to force Tehran to change its ways, especially since Bush has removed one of the chief threats to the mullah regime, Saddam Hussein, and is now bogged down in Iraq. As one intel official said before the Iraq war: “The Iranians are tickled by our focus on Iraq.”

All these issues have gained new urgency as Bush officials warn of further attacks. Despite recent portrayals of bin Laden as a man hunted and on the run, U.S. counter-terrorism officials now say the threat today from Al Qaeda may be just as serious as in the summer of 2001. The warnings are based on unusually high-quality intelligence emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border near Waziristan, where top Qaeda leaders are said to be hiding. “This is absolutely real,” said one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. “We feel very confident that they are trying hard to attack us inside the United States before the election and that some of the operatives are already here.” But just as with the 9/11 attacks, officials are at a loss to say what the actual plot is, who the plotters are, how they got here?and who helped them get here.

With Mark Hosenball and Steve Tuttle

? 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Iran is definitely a problem. Combine its history of support for terrorism with the zeal with which it is pursuing nuclear technology (aided and abetted by the Russians, French and Germans) – ALLEGEDLY for “peaceful” uses like energy (as if a country with Iran’s oil reserves needed to pursue nuclear power…) – and it is obvious that Iran poses a major threat to world security and middle-eastern stability.

One very interesting thing though – after Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran now has U.S. forces on both its eastern and western fronts. I wonder how this played into all the planning?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
after Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran now has U.S. forces on both its eastern and western fronts.[/quote]

It seems you may be gaining some understanding of this particular game…

I’m constantly amused by all of the complaints and arguments from people who just plain don’t get it. Political and military actions have aftershocks. In most cases, we’re a lot more interested in those than we are in the more obvious results of the actions.

I had the opportunity to talk with someone that was in charge of press for the CPA in Iraq for the last 6 months. He just got back and in his remarks he noted that he thought the Iranian regime would fall in the near future…and then said “and I dont mean in ten years or so, I mean in the next 1-2 years.”

It was very interesting.

Is this:

Cause - Iran involved in 9/11, or for that matter any other tenuious reason (nuclear weapons?, terrorism, freedom, democracy etc).

Effect - Invade Iran

Or this:

Cause - Need to invade Iran because of ideological and strategic reasons (you can provide your own).

Effect - Find whatever reason to “justify” somewhat an invasion of Iran.

Which case occured in Iraq? Were there pressing reasons and thus the need to invade Iraq? Or was there a strategic and ideological dream that need reasons to provide justificatrion for an invasion?

After Iran why not do the same for Sryia or Maybe even Saudi Arabia?

Military Cons for invading Iran:
1 You are fighting Persians not Arabs. The Persian have not been conqured for any length of time in 3000 years (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mongals, Turks, British, Russians could not). There fierce SOB’s!
2 Montanious country modern war machine largely impotent. Case in point Afganistan, Cheenchyia, Bosina. You can bomb away from 10,000 feet but it really does not get the job done. Need foot soliders. The number of soliders and the number of dead are going to be great.
3 Iraq really did not have any friends (either in the Arab world or else where). Iran has extensive business ties. Even co-own a nuclear reactor in France!

Expect the same properganda machine to launch into calling for the invasion of Iran. Whatever reasons they provide will not be the main drivers in the desire to invade Iran. Instead long standing strategic and Ideological dreams will be.

You don’t do the same because you haven’t got the muscle. Exactly where are all these troops for these projects going to come from? We’re already stretched to the limit with the guys we have in Iraq-- and it’s clear that we don’t have nearly enough in Iraq to properly oversee things. You know things are out of hand when we’re stretching out National Guard tours of duty in foreign countries. The civilians who run the Defense Department and inserted their pipe dreams into military situations were clearly wrong. We have about 100,000 there and we need another couple of hundred thousand more.
How in the blue fuck we can expect to invade Syria, Iran, and seemingly every other place “in the works” while we still have this problem is beyond me.

To keep this on topic-- I believe Iran is more dangerous than Iraq was pre-war. And they certainly aid and abet terrorism and instability in the Middle East.

From the article:
“The 9-11 Commission report emphasizes there is no evidence suggesting that Iranian officials had advance knowledge of the September 11 plot. Still, the report raises new, sharper questions about whether the Bush administration was focused on the right enemy when it decided to remove Saddam Hussein.”

D’oh!!!

Does this mean that any country that let the terrorists pass through are target for invasion? I surely hope not because the President would have to invade his own country since all 22 terrorists passed through here along with a number of others.

[quote]Zeppelin795 wrote:
Does this mean that any country that let the terrorists pass through are target for invasion? I surely hope not because the President would have to invade his own country since all 22 terrorists passed through here along with a number of others.[/quote]

Canada would make that list, I think. They should be next, the bastards.

[quote]tme wrote:
Zeppelin795 wrote:
Does this mean that any country that let the terrorists pass through are target for invasion? I surely hope not because the President would have to invade his own country since all 22 terrorists passed through here along with a number of others.

Canada would make that list, I think. They should be next, the bastards.

[/quote]

tme: Sounds cool! Then we can work our way south and invade ourselves.

Canada would make that list, I think. They should be next, the bastards.

Hahahahah. We’d “polite” you to death! Two thoughts on the concept though…

  1. There is a difference between “making it through” and “being let through”.

  2. As a friend of mine reflected, the last time I went to the States, it was the US officials that let me in.

When you cross the border, you are screened by the country you are entering, not the country you are leaving.

What I found interesting was the part about Iran choosing not to stamp passports. Apparently an attempt to make it easier for travelers (terrorists) to gain entry to other countries.

That is direct and active government effort to aid terrorists! Combined with continued ongoing efforts to develop a nuclear program and you’ve got a bigger threat than it appears Saddam was.

[quote]vroom wrote:
What I found interesting was the part about Iran choosing not to stamp passports. Apparently an attempt to make it easier for travelers (terrorists) to gain entry to other countries.

That is direct and active government effort to aid terrorists! Combined with continued ongoing efforts to develop a nuclear program and you’ve got a bigger threat than it appears Saddam was.[/quote]

But how far up did that go? Was it the border guards? Their captains? The captain’s superiors? Was the defense minister aware? Did the orders come from him? From the head mullah himself? How would you ever prove it?

Just as the US points to a handfull of privates and SP4s as the sole perpetrators at Abu Ghraib prison, so to can the Iranian government point to a handfull of border guards as the few bad apples. Doesn’t matter if the Secretary…er I mean Minister of Defense sent the order down or not, he has deniability. Just like Rummy is willing to sacrifice a few peons to save his own ass.

In Bush’s SOTU speech a year, or so ago he listed the ‘Axis of Evil’. Guess which countries made the list?

Iran, Iraq, and N.Korea. We invaded Iraq, it’s been taken off the list now.

You anti-Bushies are crying because we didn’t invade Iran first? It’s a much more difficult task to invade Iran than Iraq.

Here is an instance where if we allow the current climate in Iran to fester, they will implode on themselves, no war needed.

Besides, I’ve heard that Israel will do our dirty work for us and bomb Iran’s nuclear plants - just like they did in Iraq back in 1981.

God love them Jews -

This jihadwatch.org, is a website that every Aemrican should go to. Because you are getting the views from the Arab world. And what they see…Something the mainstream press and media will not dare to report on…

“…Yesterday we posted an article reporting that Iran’s mullahs are hoping Bush loses the presidential election. Some comments criticized us for bringing politics into the struggle against global jihad. Well, actually I would love to keep politics out of it. In Onward Muslim Soldiers I make the case that the struggle against jihad terror is not a conservative issue, but should be one taken up by all those who value universal human rights. …”

Now the Tehran Times is reporting that John Kerry’s office has warmed the mullahs’ hearts, such as they are, by sending a note to an Iranian news agency promising to repair the damage Bush has done. (Thanks to dtrini.)

The office of Senator John Kerry, the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary in the U.S., sent the Mehr News Agency an e-email saying that Kerry will try to repair the damage done by the incumbent president if he wins the election. The text of the e-mail follows.
As Americans who have lived and worked extensively overseas, we have personally witnessed the high regard with which people around the world have historically viewed the United States. Sadly, we are also painfully aware of how the actions and the attitudes demonstrated by the U.S. government over the past three years have threatened the goodwill earned by presidents of both parties over many decades and put many of our international relationships at risk.

It is in the urgent interests of the people of the United States to restore our country’s credibility in the eyes of the world. America needs the kind of leadership that will repair alliances with countries on every continent that have been so damaged in the past few years, as well as build new friendships and overcome tensions with others.

We are convinced that John Kerry is the candidate best qualified to meet this challenge. Senator Kerry has the diplomatic skill and temperament as well as a lifetime of accomplishments in field of international affairs. He believes that collaboration with other countries is crucial to efforts to win the war on terror and make America safer.

An understanding of global affairs is essential in these times, and central to this campaign Kerry has the experience and the understanding necessary to successfully restore the United States to its position of respect within the community of nations. He has the judgment and vision necessary to assure that the United States fulfills a leadership role in meeting the challenges we face throughout the world.

The current Administration’s policies of unilateralism and rejection of important international initiatives, from the Kyoto Accords to the Biological Weapons Convention, have alienated much of the world and squandered remarkable reserves of support after 9/11. This climate of hostility affects us all, but most especially impacts those who reside overseas. Disappointment with current U.S. leadership is widespread, extending not just to the corridors of power and politics, but to the man and woman on the street as well.

We believe John Kerry is the Democrat who can go toe-to-toe against the current Administration on national security and defense issues. We also remain convinced that John Kerry has the best chance of beating the incumbent in November, and putting America on a new course that will lead to a safer, more secure, and more stable world."

Among Sen. John Kerry’s top fund-raisers are three Iranian-Americans who have been pushing for dramatic changes in U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Kerry camp has identified Nemazee as having raised more than $100,000 for the senator’s campaign.

A Nemazee friend in Silicon Valley, Faraj Aalaei, has raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for the Kerry campaign. Aalaei has worked in the telecommunications industry for 22 years and is the chief executive officer of Centillium Communications, a publicly traded company.

Last year, Aalaei married a 35-year-old recent immigrant from Iran named Susan Akbarpour, whom the Kerry campaign also lists as having raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for the campaign.

…In a sweeping foreign-policy address to the Council on Foreign Relations in December, Kerry called the U.S. war on terror as conceived and led by President George W. Bush “the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history.” Kerry’s remarks were widely praised by journalists. The Associated Press headlined its report on his speech, “Kerry Vows to Repair Foreign Relations.” The Knight Ridder news service noted that the new focus on foreign policy “plays to Kerry’s strength.” None of the major U.S. dailies found Kerry’s unusually strident language at all inappropriate. “Kerry Vows to Change U.S. Foreign Policy; Senator Describes Steps He Would Take as President,” the Washington Post headlined ponderously.

Kerry promised to spend the first 100 days of his administration traveling the world to denounce his predecessor, apologize for his “radically wrong” policy, and seek “cooperation and compromise” with friend and foe alike. Borrowing language normally reserved to characterize “rogue” states, Kerry said he would “go to the United Nations and travel to our traditional allies to affirm that the United States has rejoined the community of nations.”
Perhaps frustrated that his radical departure from the war on terror was not getting much attention in the trenches of Democratic Party politics, Kerry ordered his campaign to mobilize grass-roots supporters to spread the word. In one e-mail message, obtained by Insight and confirmed as authentic by the Kerry camp, the senator’s advisers enlisted overseas Democrats to launch a letter-writing and op-ed campaign denouncing the Bush foreign-policy record.

“'It is in the urgent interests of the people of the United States to restore our country’s credibility in the eyes of the world,” the message states. “America needs the kind of leadership that will repair alliances with countries on every continent that have been so damaged in the past few years, as well as build new friendships and overcome tensions with others.”

According to dissident Ayatollah Mehdi Haeri, who fled Iran for Germany after being held for four years in a regime prison, Iran’s hard-line clerics “fear President Bush.” In an interview with Insight, Haeri says that President Bush’s messages of support to pro-democracy forces inside Iran and his insistence that the Iranian regime abandon its nuclear-weapons program “have given these people the shivers. They think that if Bush is re-elected, they’ll be gone. That’s why they want to see Kerry elected.”

http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm?include=detail&storyid=621288

Are we going to have a Neville Chamerlain all over again? A Policy of appeasement? Or is Mr. Kerry going to flip flop on these statments he already made…Direct quotes…Which cannot be refuted. Which have ispired the leaders and the radicals of Iran, and those who want to keep the government of Iran the same, even more… Wonder why he is never asked questions on this?

Joe

rainjack: Who is crying that we didn’t invade Iran first? We shouldn’t have invaded Iraq to begin with. People who are against this country’s foreign policy are merely commenting on the statements being made by the current administration e.g. Hey, eight terrorists have passed through Iran so they must be connected to 9/11. This is what they are implying. And of course they don’t need any evidence they’ll just lie enough times through corporate media and propagandize it to death until the masses believe it.

[i]But how far up did that go? Was it the border guards? Their captains? The captain’s superiors? Was the defense minister aware? Did the orders come from him? From the head mullah himself? How would you ever prove it?

Just as the US points to a handfull of privates and SP4s as the sole perpetrators at Abu Ghraib prison, so to can the Iranian government point to a handfull of border guards as the few bad apples. Doesn’t matter if the Secretary…er I mean Minister of Defense sent the order down or not, he has deniability. Just like Rummy is willing to sacrifice a few peons to save his own ass.[/i]

Tme, as far as I am aware, in international affairs it is generally assumed that any “duly appointed official” is acting on behalf of the government. If any nation wishes to believe their claims otherwise, that is up to them entirely.

Unfortunately, this is also what made the Abu Ghraib situation so horrendous and in my opinion treated so lightly by the administration. Official, soldiers and so on are representatives of their governments when acting in their official capacity!

If Iran had several high ranking officials step down and admit responsibility for this behavior and absolve the government, then it MIGHT help another country to forgive and forget, if they were so inclined.

Did not most of the 9/11 hijackers pass throung (and live!) in Germany? Does this mean that Germany OK it? By the same logic as that used on Iran? Really.

Iran, Europe, America all have boaders that people can slip through. Every day 1000’s of people cross boarders (legal or illegal). If some of these people commit crimes does it mean that the government OK’ed the crimes?

Now invading Iran would probally be the worse thing that could be done in terms of achieving “freedom, democracy, westernization etc”. It would only serve to galvanize the population against these ideas. Since the revolution the Iranians have been breeding very quickly. Something like 1/2 the population is under 25. These people at the moment have a great fondness for the west (music, fashion etc), and no particular fondness for the theoocracy. Surely it would be a better stategy to let this demographic force work as opposed to turning it against you.

[quote]bluey wrote:
Now invading Iran would probally be the worse thing that could be done in terms of achieving “freedom, democracy, westernization etc”. It would only serve to galvanize the population against these ideas. Since the revolution the Iranians have been breeding very quickly. Something like 1/2 the population is under 25. These people at the moment have a great fondness for the west (music, fashion etc), and no particular fondness for the theoocracy. Surely it would be a better stategy to let this demographic force work as opposed to turning it against you. [/quote]

Bluey: you’re absolutely right of course, but count on bushleague and his band of thieves and liars to do the stupid thing here. Onward christian soldier and all that. That’s why the drum is starting to bang louder and louder over the last few days. If it wasn’t Iran it would likely be Syria.