Tag Archives: Iran

Saudi Arabia and Iran Involvement in 9/11

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by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY

The 9/11 attacks were not civil torts. They were acts of war. It is important to keep that fact in the front of our minds as we press for long-overdue disclosure of evidence linking the Saudi Arabian government to the mass murder of nearly 3,000 Americans, to say nothing of the even more overdue investigation of Iran’s contributory role — an investigation that should have been in high gear immediately after the planes struck their targets. Over the years in these pages, we have catalogued the damage done to national security by regarding international terrorism as a mere law-enforcement problem — the 1990s Clinton counterterrorism paradigm that President Obama has gradually reinstated. We haven’t much considered, though, another problem with thinking about violent jihadism as a litigation matter: It leads us to lose perspective about who was attacked, and why.

Much as our hearts ache for the victims whose lives were lost, and for the families whose lives were ripped apart, 9/11 was not principally an attack on the victims and their families. It was an attack on the United States of America. It was a stealth combat operation against the American people, all of us, by foreign enemies who had quite publicly declared war on our nation. Those killed and wounded are more accurately thought of as casualties than as victims. This is why it is so unfortunate that the drive to get public accountability for the attacks has been intertwined with the effort to get financial compensation for the families by way of civil lawsuits against complicit nations. Don’t get me wrong: All of us should demand that state sponsors of terrorism be made to pay dearly for their atrocities – although, for reasons I’ll get to in a bit, legislation permitting victims to sue is a counterproductive way to go about this.

But for all the incalculable pain and suffering inflicted on our fallen fellow Americans and their families, the laudable desire to see them awarded hefty money damages is, at best, a secondary priority. The national security of the United States demands that we endeavor to understand why and how the 9/11 attacks happened as well as what kind of relations we should have, all these years later, with nations that were culpable. In just the last few days, as Tom Joscelyn reports, the Obama administration has transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Riyadh nine more hardcore anti-American Yemeni detainees – notwithstanding that al-Qaeda’s most capable franchise (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has alarmingly expanded its safe haven in Yemen. Meanwhile, we learn in a jaw-dropping Wall Street Journal dispatch, the administration has announced that it will purchase from Iran tons of heavy water (used in developing plutonium bombs). In one fell swoop, Obama thus cures yet another Iranian violation of his vaunted nuclear deal (so soon after Iran tested ballistic missiles festooned with vows to destroy Israel); subsidizes Iran’s nuclear program; legitimizes Iran’s heavy-water production (i.e., its plutonium R&D) by encouraging other nations to engage in similar commerce; and apparently structures an infusion of multi-millions of American dollars into a country he promised Congress would continue to be precluded from access to our economy.

I know, I know: Obama is incorrigible. There is no American national-security interest that would be allowed to take precedence over his legacy hunt. He is determined to be remembered by the global Left – the only audience that matters – as the president who shut down Bush’s Gitmo gulag; and if Congress won’t cooperate by transferring anti-American jihadists to stateside prisons, then he will simply empty Gitmo by transferring the jihadists back to the jihad. And we have seen time and again that he is desperate to sustain his historic “achievement” in striking the Iran nuclear deal, no matter how often Tehran humiliates him.

Nevertheless, we will have a new president soon (albeit not soon enough). That president will have to decide the nature of our relations with the Saudis and Iranians. Assuming that, unlike Obama, the next president figures there should be a rational connection between how we engage a country and how much it threatens our interests, the facts about Saudi and Iranian complicity in the anti-American jihad must be known. More to the point, the American people are entitled to be able to weigh those facts in choosing the next commander-in-chief.

As I outlined last week, there is extensive evidence of complicity by high levels of the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks. There is, moreover, compelling evidence of Iranian complicity. Iran had an alliance with al-Qaeda beginning in the early 1990s. It principally included training by Hezbollah (the Beirut-based terrorist faction created and controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and such joint ventures as the 1996 Khobar Towers attack, in which 19 U.S. airmen were killed (and the FBI’s investigation of which was obstructed by the Saudi government). Toward the conclusion of its probe (and thus without time to investigate the matter fully), the 9/11 Commission learned that Iran had provided critical assistance to the suicide hijackers by allowing them to transit through Iran and Lebanon as they moved from obtaining travel documents in Saudi Arabia (Saudi passports and U.S. visas) to training for the attacks in al-Qaeda’s Afghan safe havens.

Indeed, we now know that Iran’s assistance was overseen by none less than Imad Mugniyah, the now-deceased Hezbollah master terrorist who spent much of his life killing Americans, most notoriously in the Beirut marine-barracks bombing in 1983, and almost certainly at Khobar Towers. In October 2000, Mugniyah went to Saudi Arabia to “coordinate activities” (as the 9/11 Commission put it) with the suicide hijackers. (See 9/11 Commission Report at page 240, as well as affidavits of former CIA officers and a 9/11 Commission staffer, here and here). Thereafter, Mugniyah and other senior Hezbollah members accompanied the “muscle hijackers” on flights through Iran and Lebanon. By enabling the hijackers to cross through these countries without having their passports stamped – an Iranian or Lebanese stamp being a telltale sign of potential terrorist training – Iran made it much more likely that the jihadists’ applications for Saudi passports and U.S. visas would be approved, as they were. That is why, on the topic of potential Iranian complicity in the plot, the 9/11 Commission wrote, “We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.” The plea has fallen on deaf ears. In fact, thanks to Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal, our government is no longer content to be willfully blind; it is knowingly and materially supporting Tehran’s terror promotion, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Will we ever get accountability?

The prospects are not promising at the moment. As noted above, legislation has been proposed by Senators John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.) to allow 9/11 families to sue the Saudis. Unfortunately, this Cornyn-Schumer bill has gotten itself tied to the effort to get disclosure of the 28 pages on Saudi complicity in 9/11 from Congress’s 2002 report. The Saudi government has threatened to destabilize the U.S. economy by dumping up to $780 billion in dollar-denominated assets if the kingdom is made liable to suit. They are probably bluffing. It is doubtful that they actually hold assets in that amount, and even if they sold off whatever they have, they are likely exaggerating the amount of havoc it would wreak. Still, the threat has given Obama the fig leaf he needs not only to threaten a veto of the legislation but to continue suppressing the long-sought 28 pages.

The two issues must be de-linked. The development of a truly definitive public accounting of the nations and terrorist organizations that colluded in acts of war against the United States should have nothing to do with whether the 9/11 families are given a legal basis to sue foreign sovereigns. Even if the two things were necessarily connected – and they’re not – it would be the legislation, not publication of the 28 pages, that should be dropped.

Civil lawsuits by victims are no more a serious response to wartime aggression than are grand-jury indictments. A great nation does not react to acts of war by issuing court process. Furthermore, permitting such lawsuits (a) encourages other nations to subject the United States to lawsuits for legitimate actions taken in our national defense; and (b) consigns the conduct of the most delicate foreign-policy matters to the vagaries of litigation presided over by the judiciary – the branch of government that lacks constitutional responsibility, political accountability, and institutional competence for managing international affairs and national security. Of course our government should pressure rogue regimes to compensate victims of terrorism.

The political branches of government that are actually responsible for foreign affairs should demand that any nation complicit in the 9/11 attacks provide a fund for the families. It is feckless, however, to punt that job to the courts. Unlike the president and Congress, judges are powerless to enforce their writs against, or otherwise credibly threaten, hostile foreign sovereigns. That, however, is the least of our problems. First, we need to find out exactly what happened in the lead-up to and aftermath of 9/11. (Post-9/11, Iran harbored al-Qaeda as the terror network fled invading U.S. forces.) Then, we need to define our engagement with Saudi Arabia and Iran in accordance with what they have done and who they actually are – not who Obama and the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment fantasize they could become. So let’s get the facts . . . finally.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/434469/9-11-victims-saudi-arabia-iran-cornyn-schumer-bill

Obama transfers $2 billion, artifacts back to Iran

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I suggest you not read this story until your breakfast is fully digested.

The Obama administration has been secretly returning artifacts in the possession of the U.S. back to Iran as part of a general “détente” with the terrorist regime.  They also transferred nearly $2 billion in taxpayer money to Tehran and are discussing more as part of a settlement dealing with Iran’s claims.  The information is contained in a letter from a State Department official obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Absolutely no word on any U.S. claims regarding the appropriation of U.S. property, including our embassy, nor damages paid to American hostages for being held more than a year as prisoners.

Obama administration officials engaged in secret talks with Iran between June 2014 through at least January 2015 over a series of legal claims leveled against the United States by the Islamic Republic, the State Department disclosed in its letter.

“These discussions led to the settlement of claims for architectural drawings, which are now in the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, and for fossils, which are now in the possession of Iran’s Ministry of the Environment, and the parties also discussed the possibility of broader settlements,” the State Department wrote, in response to an inquiry launched in January by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.).

The Obama administration is seeking further settlements with Tehran to transfer assets, according to the State Department.

The administration’s latest admission about the backroom dealings with Iran were offered in response to a broader inquiry launched by Pompeo, who is seeking further information about the Obama administration’s payment of $1.7 billion in taxpayer funds to Iran, which many viewed as a “ransom payment” for Iran’s release of several U.S. hostages in January.

The administration’s official response to Pompeo was sent earlier this week, just days after a Free Beacon report detailing a months-long State Department effort to stall the lawmaker’s inquiry.

“After nearly two months of stalling, the State Department confirmed what I feared was true: the Obama administration is negotiating behind closed doors with the Islamic Republic of Iran and using taxpayer dollars to pay the regime,” Pompeo said in a statement on the letter. “Worse yet, more of these payments are likely coming.”

“Secretary Kerry still refuses to answer whether the $1.7 billion U.S. payment to Iran was related to the release of American hostages held by Iran,” Pompeo continued. “While we celebrate the return of these hostages, this administration could be setting a dangerous precedent, as innocent Americans continue to be held in Iran. I will not stop until we have all of the answers and will do all in my power to stop the Obama administration’s dangerous Iran policy.”

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this nauseating groveling by the Obama administration.  The Iranians kidnap our diplomats, trash the embassy and turn it into a museum, and financed terrorist attacks against the U.S., including the bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.  Meanwhile, Obama genuflects before the mullahs and unilaterally parts with cash and artifacts.

I don’t think even Hillary Clinton would stoop so low.  She, at least, has a far more realistic view of Iran and doesn’t see the Iranians as the benign holy men Obama sees.  But the damage done is irreparable.  We are trapped by a treaty that is impossible to police, and by the time anyone gets into office who could alter it, most of Iran’s frozen assets will have been returned.

Iran: Ahmadinejad, ready for a comeback

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TEHRAN, Iran — When Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped aside in 2013 — after eight years in office — it was clear that he had serious plans for his future. In fact, he had indicated this in a TV interview one year before leaving office, by pointing to his possible presence in Iran’s next government. The disqualification of his Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, from the 2013 presidential race, however, prevented this dream from becoming reality.

But despite the disqualification of Mashaei, Ahmadinejad had no intention to leave the stage. Soon, he came up with a special plan for the recently held parliamentary elections. In an interview last year, one of his advisers, Abdolreza Davari, revealed that a 5,000-strong cadre had been trained for parliament during Ahmadinejad’s time in office. It also came to light that the former president was holding weekly meetings with his previous ministers and advisers in a building in Velenjak, a district in northern Tehran. One of his foreign policy advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor, “I take part in meetings every Sunday. These sessions are often held on foreign policy issues, but they are not the only meetings. Other individuals in Ahmadinejad’s inner circle hold similar gatherings on different days. Of course, Ahmadinejad had no serious plans for the parliamentary elections from the start, and his mind is on the 2017 presidential poll instead.”

The source added, “Once I asked him if he had any plans for directly entering the parliamentary stage. His response was ‘no.’ He said, ‘In government, I was the only person and they created so many problems for us. In parliament, it will be me with 289 other members of parliament. Naturally this will be more difficult.’”

Prior to Iran’s Feb. 26 parliamentary elections, Ahmadinejad had predicted that the Principlists would suffer a heavy loss, and that even the Reformists’ third-rate cadres would be able to defeat the Principlists’ weak list of nominees — a prediction that proved to be true.

Meanwhile, a look at the performance of the groups close to Ahmadinejad in the recent parliamentary elections shows they were not lacking a plan either. These groups have managed to get their own candidates elected into parliament through small towns. In fact, 11 of Ahmadinejad’s former ministers, advisers, deputies and high-ranking managers have found their way into parliament’s next term through these towns.

Indeed, soon after the election results for Tehran were announced, an intense wave of joy and happiness was witnessed among the groups linked to Ahmadinejad. Posters began circulating online, bearing the slogan “The Principlists are nothing without Ahmadinejad.” In addition, numerous articles written by Ahmadinejad’s friends and allies started popping up on different websites, arguing that the main reason for the Principlists’ heavy loss — especially in Tehran — was caused by the fact that they had distanced themselves from the former president — a point that was also stressed by Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Ahmadinejad’s former adviser for press affairs. With all the parliamentary leaders of the Principlist movement eradicated in Tehran, analysts began to talk about a Principlist return to Ahmadinejad. Sadegh Zibakalam, an Iranian university professor and analyst said, “The Principlists do not have the power to return to power without Ahmadinejad.”

This idea has, however, not been met warmly within the Principlist movement. In an editorial published on the Khabar Online news website, Mohammad Mohajeri, former editor-in-chief of hard-line newpaper Kayhan, wrote that the main reason that the Principlists lost in the recent parliamentary elections was Ahmadinejad’s first election as president in 2005. Saeed Ajorloo, the editor of the Principlist magazine Mosalas, also referred to the idea of the Principlists turning back to Ahmadinejad as the worst possible thing.

Moreover, in another editorial, Hossein Kanani Moghadam, the founder of the Green Party, described the main reason for the Principlist loss in the elections as the cost inflicted on their reputation by Ahmadinejad. Yet despite all this, one should not forget that Ahmadinejad is good at playing the political game — especially when it comes to the public. By relying on this strength alone, he has managed to get his people into the next parliament, while the Principlists have failed to even predict the defeat that was awaiting them.

It is possible that Ahmadinejad is now preparing to enter the 2017 presidential race himself, which could pit him against incumbent President Hassan Rouhani. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the foreign policy adviser to Ahmadinejad told Al-Monitor, “I once told Ahmadinejad that it was unlikely that he would get votes and that it is best that he forget about the presidency. He got upset and told me that I only saw Tehran and other big cities, while he enjoyed high popularity in smaller towns.”

Except for Abolhassan Bani Sadr, the first president after the 1979 Islamic Revolution who was impeached by parliament less than two years into his term, all other presidents in the history of the Islamic Republic have served two terms in office. Based on this and the high voter turnout in the recent parliamentary elections — an indication of public satisfaction with Rouhani’s performance — it will be somewhat risky for Ahmadinejad to enter the 2017 presidential race, in which he would likely have to run against Rouhani, who has the success of the nuclear negotiations behind him.

Thus, maybe it is best for Ahmadinejad that he wait another four years and instead run in the 2021 presidential vote. However, some analysts believe that Ahmadinejad’s actions show that he does not intend to wait. Others believe that his tendency to go against the norm — such as his 11-day sulk in 2011 when he refused to show up for work after failing to dismiss his minister of intelligence, or his insistence on supporting Mashaei despite strong criticism from the Principlists as well as clerics — will prompt the establishment to prevent his return.

Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian journalist and economist, told Al-Monitor, “Whether the establishment allows Ahmadinejad to return or not is not important. We have to prevent this ourselves by closing the holes through which he could return, such as manipulating the weaker [social] class and the economically vulnerable and pulling them toward him, something that Mr. Rouhani has until now managed to do well.”

by Saeid Jafari