Report Emphasizes Dubious Iran-al-Qaeda Ties

US Officials Admit Situation Not Well Understood

The latest piling on with respect to the Iran war hysteria is an exclusive article today by the Associated Press implying that Iran may be funneling al-Qaeda detainees to the battlefields in Northern Pakistan to fight against the US.

The claims are centered around a murky, and supposedly canceled CIA program known as RIGOR, which officially aims to track al-Qaeda members who fled into Iran but which officials are saying is more of a “feasibility study” into the possibility to infiltrating Iran to assassinate them.

Sunni fundamentalist al-Qaeda has a long history of open hostility to the Shi’ite Iranian government, so much so that the notion of even an alliance of convenience has long been unfathomable. Al-Qaeda was, after all, Jundallah’s chief ally against Iran before the two groups’ falling out, when the US began supporting Jundallah.

It is perhaps only the ridiculous levels of belligerence US officials have shown toward Iran which gives such rumors any credence: that Iran has become so desperate to hedge against US attack that they’re willing to countenance any potential aid, no matter how unsavory.

But even with the CIA’s RIGOR and other efforts, officials concede that their view of the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda is murky, at best. The Iranian government has been holding many of the alleged al-Qaeda as detainees for quite some time, and has held members of Osama bin Laden’s family under house arrest. The fact that Osama bin Laden’s 17-year-old daughter was allowed to move from Iran to Syria figures heavily into the claims of collaboration, which underscores just how little concrete information is available on this putative relationship.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.