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British Intel Concerned About Iran-Al Qaeda

5:29 PM, Feb 16, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Now, Sky News is reporting that the international scrutiny of Yasin al Suri’s operations has led the Iranians to place him in “protective custody.” His replacement as the head of al Qaeda’s network inside Iran is an infamous terrorist named Mohsen al Fadhli.  

Al Fadhli is a long-time al Qaeda member who fought in Chechnya and Afghanistan and was also involved in financing al Qaeda in Iraq’s operations. According to a Treasury Department designation from 2005, al Fadhli worked with the “brutal” Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was the head of al Qaeda in Iraq until an American bomb caught up with him in 2006. Al Fadhli made tapes of al Qaeda in Iraq’s operations in order to impress donors.

Al Fadhli was the money man for al Qaeda’s Oct. 6, 2002 attack on the French ship MV Limburg and has been tied to the al Qaeda cell that carried out the Oct. 8, 2002 attack against U.S. Marines stationed on Kuwait's Faylaka Island. One Marine was killed during the Faylaka Island shootout.

A leaked State Department cable notes that al Fadhli was charged by a Kuwaiti court with involvement in the October 12, 2000 USS Cole bombing. That attack was carried out by the same network that bombed the MV Limburg, with help from al Fadhli, two years later. 

Al Fadhli’s mentor inside Kuwait was Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who served for a time as Osama bin Laden’s spokesman. Abu Gaith received safe haven inside Iran after the 9/11 attacks, but was placed under a loose form of house arrest in 2003. In 2010, the Iranians reportedly freed Abu Gaith from his lax confinement and he may have made his way to Pakistan.

Al Fadhli’s deputy inside Iran is a fugitive named Adel Radi Saker al Wahabi al Harbi, who is among Saudi Arabia's most wanted terrorists. Intelligence shown to Sky News describes al Harbi as “an extremely dangerous field operative” who “has fought in the Afghanistan and Pakistan theatres."

We do not know what intelligence has led the British to speculate about a possible Iranian-backed al Qaeda attack in the West. We do know that Iran has relationships with, and has provided safe haven for, a number of senior al Qaeda terrorists who have plotted against the West.

The intelligence officials cited by Sky News say that Iran is reportedly providing training in explosives, safe haven, and funding for the operatives involved in this latest putative plot. If true, it would not be the first time Iran has helped al Qaeda execute a mass casualty terrorist attack.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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