The War in Bosnia and the Making of Iran’s Friendship with al-Qaeda

Jan. 27 2021

In his final days in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech outlining the ties between the Islamic Republic and Osama bin Laden’s notorious terrorist group. While conventional wisdom has long maintained that Sunni al-Qaeda would have no truck with Shiite Iran, the truth is that collaboration between the two is old news. By the time Israeli intelligence became aware of it in the mid-1990s, it had been going on for some time. Kyle Orton tells part of the story, which begins with the collapse of Yugoslavia, when Orthodox Serbs launch a bloody campaign of ethnic cleansing against their Bosnian Muslim neighbors:

Unmentioned in Pompeo’s speech was one of the crucibles that forged this relationship, and forged al-Qaeda into something more than a regional menace, namely the Bosnian war of 1992-5. Thousands of foreign Sunni jihadists came into Bosnia in this period, many of them either with pre-existing links to al-Qaeda or established links once they were in country, and this rag-tag army of mujahideen found itself benefiting from the role of the Iranian revolution in Bosnia. . . . Iranian veterans of this campaign recently boasted in public about it.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda was receiving extensive support and training from Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah:

The 9/11 Commission Report confirms [a] meeting between bin Laden and [the top Hizballah officer Imad] Mughniyeh in Sudan, probably in early 1992, and the transfer thereafter of al-Qaeda jihadists to the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon for training with Iran/Hizballah.

This relationship continued into the 2000s, when bin Laden, in an internal memo, mentioned that the Islamic Republic allowed his organization’s “core facilitation pipeline” to run through its territory. And just two months ago, a high-ranking al-Qaeda terrorist was assassinated in Tehran.

Read more at Kyle Orton

More about: Al Qaeda, Bosnia, Iran, Mossad, Terrorism, Yugoslavia


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria