Even Iran's leaders have pointed to their ties with terror groups. A former general of the IRGC, Saeed Ghasemi, shared a surprising revelation in 2019 when he pointed out that the Iranian government sent agents to Bosnia to train Al Qaeda members, and that those operatives hid their identity by posing as humanitarian workers for Iran's Red Crescent Society. Pictured: Ghasemi in 2018. (Image source: Mostafameraji/Wikimedia Commons)
As long as the Biden administration is surrendering to the Iranian regime and pursuing appeasement policies with the ruling mullahs, the administration's counterterrorism strategy will be ineffective and counterproductive.
The Biden administration, to its credit, recently reported the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi as a national security win and a sign of success of its counterterrorism strategy.
The administration, however, then made an astonishing announcement: that it is unfreezing $29 billion to the Iranian regime, despite that Iran is still, according to the State Department, an officially designated state sponsor of terrorism.
The move is apparently part of a US effort to appease the mullahs into redoing the 2015 nuclear deal that gives Iran a glide path to having nuclear weapons. Three American negotiators have already resigned and the US is not even welcome in the room.
So long as the Iranian regime is not strongly confronted, its many terror groups will likely continue to be major threats to global peace and security. A recent report by the United Nations, based on the last six months of 2021, acknowledged that in Iran, "terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom there than at any time in recent history."
The Iranian regime supports, both militarily and financially, militias and terrorist groups around the globe. They have made "legitimate" political parties of Lebanese and Iraqi militia groups, such as Hezbollah and the Popular Mobilization Front (PMF), respectively, in those countries' parliaments. These forces also seemingly control their countries' security and political establishments.
One only need look into the Iranian regime's relationship with Al Qaeda to understand what a catastrophe it is to give billions of dollars to Iran's regime. Iran has reportedly had ties to Al Qaeda for nearly three decades. Iran's regime, evidently viewing Al Qaeda as it does other terrorist groups -- through the prism of ideological and political opportunism – has reportedly been grooming it. From the perspective of Iran's leaders, Al Qaeda may well have seemed an invaluable non-state terrorist group that could help Iran accomplish four of its main revolutionary aims: Anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, undermining Gulf states' interests in the region, and destabilizing the Middle East so that the ruling mullahs could exploit the chaos and instability.
The Sunni-Shia division appears never to have never been an issue for the Iranian regime so long as terrorist groups, such as the Sunni Hamas, could assist the Islamic Republic in accomplishing its revolutionary aims and advancing its influence.
A convergence of interests between the Iranian regime and terrorist groups appears to have been leading to a blossoming of ties between two sides. Iran, in 2006, had already struck a deal with Al Qaeda, and used Hezbollah to provide funds, arms and explosives. Osama Bin Laden not only advised his followers to revere the Iranian regime, he also wrote that Iran was Al Qaeda's "main artery for funds, personnel and communication."
Two of Iran's institutions seem to be key in supporting terrorism and the militia groups: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its elite Quds Force.
Even Iran's leaders have pointed to their ties with terror groups. A former general of the IRGC, Saeed Ghasemi, shared a surprising revelation in 2019 when he pointed out that the Iranian government sent agents to Bosnia to train Al Qaeda members, and that those operatives hid their identity by posing as humanitarian workers for Iran's Red Crescent Society. Another Iranian official, Hossein Allahkaram, stated in addition:
"There used to be an Al-Qaeda branch in Bosnia and Herzegovina ... They were connected to us in a number of ways. Even though they were training within their own base, when they engaged in weapons training they joined us in various activities.
"Al-Qaeda members traveled to Lebanon. According to the documents, Iran provided them with "money and arms and everything they need, and offered them training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in return for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia." [Emphases in article]
The first federal indictments of Al Qaeda, under the Clinton administration, also pointed to the Iranian regime's significant role in global terrorism, including participation in the 9/11 attacks on the US that killed nearly 3,000 Americans; bombing the USS Cole, an attack in which 17 were killed and 39 wounded; bombing the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), and attempting to murder a Saudi ambassador in Washington DC:
"Osama bin Laden, the defendant, and Al-Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States."
Ahead of the 9/11 attacks, the Iranian regime allowed Al Qaeda operatives to cross through its territory without visas or passports. Robust evidence, including a federal court ruling, found that "Iran furnished material and direct support for the 9/11 terrorists." Iran also provided funds, logistical support and ammunition to Al Qaeda leaders and sheltered several of them in exchange for the terrorist group attacking US interests.
Appeasing the ruling of mullahs of Iran and unfreezing billions of dollars to give them will only further empower them, increase their terrorist activities and accelerate their destabilization of the Middle East – another legacy of failure for which the Biden administration will be able to claim credit, along with the worst inflation in 40 years; the skyrocketing price of gasoline and heating oil from shutting down America's historic energy independence; more than 100,000 U.S. deaths in 2021 from fentanyl and other drugs; enriching and empowering Russia as well as Mexico's drug cartels; failing to give Ukraine adequate materiel to deter a Russian offensive or to protect itself from one, and the crowning $83 billion surrender to the Taliban terrorists of Afghanistan.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu