Recently, a number of commentators and politicians have accused the Iranian government of cooperating with Al-Qaida and helping to support its international terrorist network. One such notable example is Congressman Curt Weldon who, on pages 94-95 of his newly-released book Countdown to Terror, drops the apparent bombshell that, "From Iran’s coordination committee, Al Qaeda has got a green light for a terrorist attack on the United States, bigger than 9/11." The wild accusations of Weldon and others concerning Iran’s supposed "cooperation" with Al-Qaida have been difficult to dispute, especially at a time when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in the midst of a personal public crusade against Jews and the Holocaust.
Needless to say, the recent poisoned banter between Iran and the United States over Israel and WMDs is really nothing new, and begs to be treated largely as political posturing–especially at a time when Ahmadinejad is increasingly desperate to prove himself on the world stage to an ocean of critics back home. Moreover, even if relations between Iran and the United States were to eventually devolve into violence, Iran is a *vastly* different adversary than Al-Qaida–and these two conflicting poles of radical Islam should not be confused or lumped together. In April 1995, the Arabic-language publication Nashrat al-Ansar published an interview with Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri–who by then had already assumed the position of top deputy to Usama Bin Laden. Excerpts from the interview as follows:
[Nashrat al-Ansar]: "The media persistently claims that the Islamic movements receive support and guidance from Iran. In this same context, the Egyptian media alleges that the Egyptian organizations are tools of the Shiites. What is your opinion?”
[Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri]: "The media’s allegation that we are supposedly backed by Iran is a shameful fabrication. Our position regarding Iran is clear, and it is based on our Islamic faith and current events. As we have mentioned before, we are committed to the path of true righteousness, the path of the Sunna, and–thus–there are clear differences between our faith and the faith of the Shiites who believe in the 12th Imam. We see the 12-Imam Shiites as a group who have brought about heresy in Islam… Whoever believes in these claims after they were proven wrong is an apostate from Islam… [Meanwhile,] after successfully toppling the Shah due to his deviation from the Islamic path, the Imams of the Iranian revolution falsely claimed that the revolution was Islamic in nature rather than merely Shiite. They falsely stated that they would support Muslims wherever they rebelled, regardless of whether they were Sunnis or Shiites. Many young Muslim men bought into this promise. What the Iranians are doing in practice teaches us day after day that what they promised us was all propaganda. The Iranian government asserts the same inflexible position with regards to any issue. The only matter that concerns the Iranian government is whether the position they advocate serves the interests of the Shiites or not. With the exception of issues pertaining to Shiites, the Iranian position is always one of total disregard and carelessness, even if the subject discussed is the struggle between the infidels and Islam. Some examples of this are:"
"- Iran’s position regarding the Islamic revolution in Syria. The Iranians supported the regime of Hafiz al-Assad. The Iranians said that the [Syrian] Muslim Brotherhood were American agents and left them to be slaughtered at the hands of Hafiz al-Assad."
"- Iran’s position regarding the Afghani jihad. Iran offered assistance only to the Shiite parties in Afghanistan, both before and after the collapse of the Communist regime. Everyone knows what role the Shiites played during the jihad. The Shiites would tax the mujahideen supply convoys. Thousands of young Arab men who took part in the Afghani jihad witnessed this."
"- Iran’s position regarding the expulsion of the Arab mujahideen from Pakistan. Iran’s position was to simply ignore what was taking place. Iran did not intervene, nor did it condemn what was happening. Iran did not welcome any expelled Arabs onto its territory, the so-called land of the Islamic Revolution!"
"- Iran’s position regarding the jihad in Egypt and Algeria. Iran did not offer any assistance to the jihadi movements. Instead, Iran left them to fend for themselves in a bloody struggle against their tyrannical leaders."
"Iran’s position regarding most of the jihadi movements was simple–we refuse to help anyone who isn’t one of our stooges or who refuses to serve our interests. As for those who refused to be their servants, Iran either did not help them at all or else threw them a petty bone to fetch–in attempt to lure them into becoming one of their stooges. If they refused to become a servant of Iran, they received nothing. As for their position regarding the jihadi movement in Egypt and Algeria, history will recall the duplicity of their claim to be a so-called Islamic revolution rather than a Shiite revolution. The truth is that they are blind Shiite zealots who refuse to help anyone other than the Shiites themselves or the agents of Shiites. They left the mujahideen in Algeria and Egypt to be slaughtered by France, America, and Israel (the same Israel that they chant slogans against during their protests). It is important that Muslims know the true facts so that this event will be accurately chronicled in history. To summarize: Iran does not offer the jihadi movement in Egypt any assistance whatsoever for one reason: the movement [the Egyptian Islamic Jihad] refuses to subject itself to Iran or to become the servant of Iran."
[Nashrat Alansar]: “What is your position regarding those Islamic movements who decided to become Iranian stooges?”
[Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri]: "Our position regarding those movements is that we advise them and warn them that this path they have chosen to adopt will not benefit them in any way. There is a hefty price tag for the measly benefits they reap from Iran–Muslims are accused of being Iranian agents, thus, they lose the respect of the entire Sunni Muslim community. These movements forfeit their right to make autonomous decisions–and all of this is to appease Iran, a country that has forsaken the revolutionary spirit it claimed to have had during the first days of the [Shiite] revolution."