An Omission of Note
Iraq, Iran, and al Qaeda's master strategist.
12:00 AM, Jun 2, 2006 • By DAN DARLING
There is some debate as to the nature of Nasar's views with regard to Shiites. Paz states elsewhere that Nasar "has no anti-Shia sentiments, and refrains, as much as known, from being involved in the Islamist insurgency in Iraq. His pragmatism might be connected also to his known Sufi family origins."
But Lorenzo Vidino notes that:
A further glance at [Nasar's] extremist ideology is provided by tapes of his sermons that were seized in the apartment of a member of an Algerian terrorist cell dismantled by Italian authorities in Naples in 2000. The tapes reveal [Nasar's] deep hatred for Shiites, whom he considers deviators from pure Islam . . . In fact, he points at the "negative influence" that Shiite groups have had on the Palestinian struggle, as some groups like Hamas have decided to work with Shiite groups like Hezbollah.
This would seem odds with the Post's claim that one of the reasons Nasar left the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was because its alliance with other sectarian movements.
THE FACT THAT NASAR is the leading ideological architect of al Qaeda's strategy (combined with his endorsement of both the Iranian nuclear program and the use of the weapons of mass destruction) takes on an added emphasis when taken in conjunction with his apparent flight to Iran after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. A June 2005 story by NBC News quotes Spanish counterterrorism judge Baltasar Garzon as describing Nasar's role in a November 2002 meeting of the al Qaeda leadership to discuss how to operate in the post-9/11 environment:
Whether or not the Iranian authorities were aware of this meeting is unknown, but an October 2003 Washington Post article cited a European intelligence official as saying that al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri used his relationship with Ahmad Vahidi (the then-commander of the elite Iranian Qods Force unit) "to negotiate a safe harbor for some of al Qaeda's leaders who were trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001."
It helps to know the back story when trying to understand the development of Mustafa Setmariam Nasar's views and how they influenced al Qaeda.
Dan Darling is a counterterrorism consultant.