Al Qaeda’s Network in Iran
BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL AND THOMAS JOSCELYN – “An al Qaeda cell slated to take part in one of the final plots ordered by Osama bin Laden made use of an Iran-based terror network that, according to the Obama administration, operates ‘under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government.’ That revelation has emerged from legal proceedings in Germany, including the trial of Ahmad Wali Siddiqui, an al Qaeda recruit who took the stand for the first time last week in Koblenz.
We observed two days of Siddiqui’s testimony. Thus far, prosecutors have allowed the gregarious defendant to do most of the talking. Cleanshaven, he has sought to present a sharply different demeanor than the one he displayed as a bearded jihadist in propaganda films shown to the court. Still, his disturbing narrative provided an extraordinary window into the inner workings of al Qaeda and allied organizations.
The alleged terror recruit, with dual German and Afghan citizenship, has discussed the time he and his fellow plotters spent at the same mosque attended by al Qaeda’s 9/11 Hamburg cell, as well as his own transformation into a violent jihadist. ‘We wanted to fight . . . against Americans,’ Siddiqui told the court. Wiretapped conversations played by prosecutors have provided additional insight into Siddiqui’s extremist worldview. During one telephone call to his mother he explained the difference between living in the West and living, as he was then, among the believers: ‘Life in Germany is not good. You live with gays, lesbians, and Jews. Islam rules here.’
Siddiqui initially joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a terrorist organization closely allied with al Qaeda, in northern Pakistan. He quickly migrated to al Qaeda itself.
According to the indictment, senior terrorists decided to send Siddiqui back to Germany to take part in a potentially devastating attack intended ‘to weaken Europe’s economy.’ In the fall of 2010, Western intelligence officials learned that Osama bin Laden had ordered attacks in several cities that were supposed to mirror the November 2008 siege of Mumbai. After Siddiqui was captured in Afghanistan, he revealed the nascent plot.” Read more.
Flashback: Iran’s Link to Al-Qaeda: The 9/11 Commission’s Evidence – “The following are excerpts from the 9/11 Commission Report, an unclassified version of which was released to the public on July 22, 2004. The commission interviewed more than 1,000 people in ten countries and conducted an unprecedented review of U.S. intelligence. Among its findings, excerpted below, was evidence of a significant and continuing relationship between al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Read more.