The Blog

What the WikiLeaks Documents Say About Iran-al Qaeda

Intelligence reports pointing to collusion between the mullahs and al Qaeda are persistent.

12:00 AM, Jul 27, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

One of the more interesting aspects of the WikiLeaks document dump is the persistence of intelligence reports indicating collusion between al Qaeda, al Qaeda-affiliated parties, and Iran. By itself, this should not be surprising. The 9/11 Commission, Clinton-era federal prosecutors, and many others have found evidence of such cooperation. Still, it is widely assumed that such an alliance is impossible due to theological differences between Sunni al Qaeda and the Shiite mullahs.

What the WikiLeaks Documents Say About Iran-al Qaeda

The WikiLeaks documents demonstrate, once again, that the world does not abide by armchair assumptions. Our terrorist enemies are not mindless automatons. When it comes to confronting their common enemies, collusion is the order of the day.

A sequential sampling of the documents is set forth below. A word of caution is in order: We cannot verify many of these reports. In some cases we simply don’t know if they are true in their entirety or at all. We do not know much about the sources for these reports either, as the sourcing is often either hidden or ambiguous.  

Still, the Guardian (UK) thought many of these accounts were worth reporting. Links to documents on the Guardian’s web site are provided throughout. Remember, these are just some of the documents linking Iran to al Qaeda and al Qaeda-affiliated organizations in the WikiLeaks collection.

At least two the intelligence reports point to collaboration on suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

A February 7, 2005 ISAF threat report contains this line: “Iran intel financing TB and HIG.” TB is a reference to the Taliban. HIG is the acronym for the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin terrorist organization, which is headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and is allied with both al Qaeda and the Taliban. The report explains:

On 30 January 2005, Iranian Intelligence agencies brought ten million Afghanis (approximately 212,800 USD) from Bir Jahn (CAN), IR to an unknown location on the border of IR and Farah Province, AF. The money was transferred to a 1990’s model white Toyota Corolla station wagon. The money was hidden with various food stuffs. The Corolla was occupied by four members of the Hezb-E-Islami, Gulbuddin (HIG) terrorist organization. The money was transported to an unknown location.

This is not surprising. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar lived in Iran from 1996 until 2002, when he was reportedly asked to leave, and the HIG has long received support from Iran.  

An ISAF report dated February 19, 2005 says that a group of Taliban commanders consisting of “eight main leaders, all of whom travel into [Afghanistan] to recruit soldiers” was expected to orchestrate attacks against U.S. forces in the Helmand and Uruzgan provinces. “This Joint Group currently resides in Iran,” the document notes. “The Iranian government has offered each member of the group 100,000 Rupees (1740 USD) for any [Afghan] soldier killed and 200,000 Rupees (3481 USD) for any [Government of Afghanistan] official.”

The report concludes: “These are determined fighters who could care less about the money.”

A September 18, 2005 threat report, based on an “unknown source,” names several Taliban members who met in Mashad, Iran “to discuss plans on conducting attacks against the AF Government.” One of the Taliban members reportedly lives in Mashad as a representative for a more senior Taliban leader. Mashad has long been a way station for al Qaeda and Taliban members traveling to and from Afghanistan.

The Guardian cites a December 2005 ISAF report indicating that North Korea, with Iran probably acting as intermediary, had agreed to sell arms to al Qaeda:

On 19 November 2005, Hezb-e-Islami party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Dr Amin (NLN) [no last name], Osama bin Laden's financial adviser, both flew to North Korea, departing from an [sic] Iran. They returned to Helmand on approximately 3 December 2005. While in North Korea, the two confirmed a deal with the North Korean government for remote controlled rockets for use against American and coalition aircraft.

Recent Blog Posts