The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that identifies countries assisting terrorist groups, will convene in Paris next week; among the items on its agenda are Tehran’s previous noncompliance with its directives. Toby Dershowitz and Serena Frechter urge FATF to initiate countermeasures against the Islamic Republic over its support for al-Qaeda, which has gone on for decades:
Last week, a little-noticed map published in the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community identified Iran as a place where al-Qaeda “affiliates, elements, or networks” operate. . . . Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda began in the early 1990s, when their [respective] leaders, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, met in Sudan and reached an “informal agreement to cooperate.” Iran then provided al-Qaeda with the training, material, and inspiration for attacks, including the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Together, these attacks killed 224 people, including twelve Americans.
Senior al-Qaeda operatives have also coordinated attacks from inside Iran, where leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) . . . have provided them with travel documents and safe haven. In Iran, Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad bin Laden, allegedly planned attacks in Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in 2002-2003 that together killed more than 50 people, including twenty Europeans.
Such cooperation continues today. State Department [annual reports have] noted, beginning in 2012 during the Obama administration and continuing through the most recent report, that “Iran has allowed [al-Qaeda] facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling [al-Qaeda] to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” Likewise, in July 2018, the United Nations Security Council released a report highlighting al-Qaeda’s role in Iran. Based on intelligence from UN member states, the report concludes that al-Qaeda leaders in Iran “have grown more prominent, working with [the current al-Qaeda leader] Ayman al-Zawahiri and projecting his authority more effectively than he could previously.” . . .
FATF should keep Iran on its blacklist and reinstate countermeasures against Tehran to stymie Iran’s terrorist activities and protect the global financial system.