Monday, June 27, 2005

Ahmadinejad: This just gets better and better...

Dan Darling,
In my earlier post analyzing Ahmadinejad's "electoral victory", I apparently missed this article by Eli Lake (full disclosure: a friend) in which he quotes noted Iranian dissident Ahmad Batebi as saying:

In describing Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Batebi said, "He is a founder of the Jerusalem force of the revolutionary guard. He has been nominated by the supreme leader who is concerned Rafsanjani has been too powerful." American intelligence considers the Jerusalem force as the wing of Iran's military responsible for funding and training anti-Israel terrorism.

Jerusalem Force is Qods Force, for those of you just joining us. And just how close Ahmadinejad still is with them may well come back into the news again given a story that first appeared in the Washington Post back in 2003. The headline "Iranian Force Has Long Ties to Al Qaeda" says it all, but here are some relevant excerpts: READ MORE

The elite Iranian force believed to be protecting Saad bin Laden and two dozen al Qaeda leaders is one of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' five branches, and has been given the mission of "exporting the Islamic revolution" by training, arming and collaborating with foreign terrorist groups -- even those that do not share Iran's fundamentalist Shiite brand of Islam ...

...The group has also maintained ties with the al Qaeda terrorist network for more than a decade, according to U.S. and European intelligence officials. Senior al Qaeda leaders first met and formed a tactical alliance with the nascent Jerusalem Force in Sudan in the early 1990s, according to intelligence officials. The group was creating terrorist training camps there at the same time that Osama bin Laden had begun to create his own financial and training infrastructure.

Bin Laden's second-in-command, Ayman Zawahiri, used his decade-old relationship with Vahidi, then commander of the Jerusalem Force, to negotiate a safe harbor for some of al Qaeda's leaders who were trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001, according to a European intelligence official.

The group is "a state within a state, and that is why they are able to offer protection to al Qaeda," one European intelligence analyst said. "The Force's senior leaders have long-standing ties to al Qaeda, and, since the fall of Afghanistan, have provided some al Qaeda leaders with travel documents and safe haven."

This should be interesting to watch given that the Qods Force are the guys who are now protecting the surviving al-Qaeda leadership.