Iran’s al Qaeda connection in Yemen

Pretending the problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away

Editorial
The Washington Times
January 6, 2010

The attempted Christmas Day underwear bombing of Northwest Flight 253 may have Iranian fingerprints, but those are dots the Obama administration doesn’t want to connect.

Iran and al Qaeda have made mutual war on America in Yemen before. In November 2008, Western security officials intercepted a letter signed by bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri thanking Iran for its “vision” in helping al Qaeda establish a foothold in Yemen after being routed from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The terror leader praised Tehran for its “monetary and infrastructure assistance” related to a September 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Sixteen people were killed in the attack, which featured machine gun and rocket fire supporting a double suicide car bombing.

Last January, Saudi Guantanamo alumnus Mohammed Atiq Awayd al-Harbi (a.k.a. al-Awfi, or detainee No. 333) turned up in a videotape as a leader of the newly formed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the organization that recruited Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Al-Awfi had been released to Saudi custody in 2007 and went through Saudi jihadist deprogramming before being set free. He turned himself back in to Saudi authorities in February 2009 and testified that Iran was involved in supporting Shi’ite rebels in Yemen, and was also making cash available to al Qaeda…

…The Obama administration, eager to curry favor with the Islamic regime in Tehran, has downplayed the Iranian connection to al Qaeda in Yemen. In December, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman noted “theories” of Iranian involvement in Yemen, but said the United States does not have “independent information” corroborating them. In any case, he said it was in the “collective interest” of countries in the region to “narrow” the conflict in Yemen, though this assertion seems more based on a fervent wish for peace than a realistic assessment of Iranian interests…

The complete editorial is at The Washington Times.

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