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Top Iranian official admits regime helped al-Qaeda, 9/11 hijackers

Bin Laden, Khameni: 2 sides of same coin
While there has been evidence connecting Iran’s regime and al-Qaeda for some time, the first acknowledgment from Iran’s government has surfaced, with a top Iranian official admitting that the mullah regime knowingly helped al-Qaeda terrorists — including some of the 9/11 hijackers — secretly travel through the Middle East, according to the New York Post.

“Their movements [through Iran] were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence,” Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the secretary of the Iranian judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights and a prominent member of the regime, said in a May 30 interview with Iranian state TV that recently surfaced, according to Al-Arabiya News.

Larijani confirmed that the Iranian government “agreed not to stamp the passports” of some al-Qaeda members who passed through Iran while traveling between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, which protected them from being prosecuted by the Saudi authorities, including one of the 9/11 hijackers.

This admission confirms one of the main accusations that the US 9/11 Commission Report leveled against Iran.

The US treasury and state departments have previously claimed that there are al-Qaeda leaders based in Iran as part of a “secret deal” between the clerical regime and the senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Iran “allows al-Qaeda to move personnel, funds and communications to and from South Asia. This ‘core pipeline’ connects al-Qaeda’s senior leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the organization’s arms throughout the Middle East,” said Tom Joscelyn, the senior editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Long War Journal.

According to a US intelligence source, “al-Qaeda needs the safe haven, and the Iranians get a cut of the smuggling and drug money. Been going on for years.”

At the same time, Iran and al-Qaeda “share a set of common enemies: the United States, Israel, and Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Iran undoubtedly saw al-Qaeda as a useful force for undermining Arab governments aligned with the United States,” stated Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Ariane Tabatabai, an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation, has said that “Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda goes back to the 1990s and has long been documented by researchers in and outside the US government.”

Following meetings between Iran and Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, facilitated by Sudanese officials, Iran began to train terrorists within its own borders and facilitated the transfer of militants from Sudan to Afghanistan after the Taliban took control there in 1996.

After al-Qaeda bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, the US indicted members of the terrorist group, stating that “al-Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West.”

The US 9/11 Commission reported, “In late 1991 or 1992, discussions in Sudan between al-Qaeda and Iranian operatives led to an informal agreement to cooperate in providing support – even if only training – for actions carried out primarily against Israel and the United States. Not long afterward, senior al-Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives.”

The commission’s report added that several of the 9/11 hijackers had passed through Iran before coming to the US.

Moreover, according to documents recovered from bin Laden’s bunker in Pakistan during the raid that killed him in 2011, after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, an al-Qaeda operative arranged for some of the group’s militants to receive asylum in Iran, where bin Laden’s wives and children also relocated.

Iran’s Quds Force also reportedly provided false travel documents for al-Qaeda operatives, disguising them as Shiite refugees and sending them to other countries, including to Iraq, where they were to target US troops.

Larijani’s admission buttresses an April 30 court ruling that ordered Iran to pay $6 billion to families of 9/11 victims for its role in supporting the hijackers who ended up taking 2,977 lives.

Tara Bane, the wife of one of the victims who died on 9/11, said she already knew Iran had been involved in the attack, adding, “We didn’t need them to admit it. But this is maybe some vindication.”