With Its Longtime Leader Dead, al-Qaeda Needs Iran More Than Ever

Although al-Qaeda and Iran sit on opposite sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide, and often denounce one another, they are not averse to cooperating. Osama bin Laden in fact noted in a 2007 memo that the Islamic Republic was his organization’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” With the death of bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Oved Lobel argues that the terrorist group’s entanglement with Iran may grow even deeper:

[T]he next in line for leadership—assuming he himself is still alive—is widely agreed to be al-Qaeda’s long-standing military chief Sayf al-Adl, who has been based in Iran for decades. If anyone can revive the organization’s fortunes, it is al-Adl, and with al-Qaeda officials now on notice that Afghanistan still isn’t safe for them, many may choose to relocate to Iran. The relationship between Zawahiri’s pre-al-Qaeda Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Lebanese branch Hizballah, began as early as 1991, eventually evolving into a deep partnership between al-Qaeda and Tehran.

This is where Israel could come into the picture. Almost exactly two years ago, Israel reportedly assassinated al-Qaeda’s then-number two, Abu Mohammad al-Masri, in the center of Tehran. . . . In recent years, Israel’s pervasive infiltration and agent network across Iran has allowed it to assassinate IRGC officials, military officers, nuclear scientists, and anyone else likely to pose a threat, including al-Qaeda leaders, practically at will.

As the U.S. seemingly has no similar network and would be very unlikely to conduct a strike directly on Iranian territory, it would have to rely once again on Israel’s agents to kill Sayf al-Adl if it became necessary to head off any potential attempts to reconstitute al-Qaeda there.

Read more at Fresh Air

More about: Al Qaeda, Iran, U.S. Security, US-Israel relations, War on Terror

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security