We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.
NPR evidently has a source in the intel community who’s seen the full briefing because they claim the NIE expects an attacking within three years, specifically.
The leftist meme du jour, most recently restated by the New York Times’s stooge ombudsman, is that Al Qaeda in Iraq really isn’t that significant and, to the extent that it is, doesn’t have much to do with the “real” Al Qaeda anyway. Declareth Clark Hoyt:
“Remember, when I mention Al Qaeda, they’re the ones who attacked the United States of America and killed nearly 3,000 people on September the 11th, 2001,” Bush said in the Naval War College speech.
Actually, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which came into being in 2003, pledged its loyalty to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda the next year but is not believed to be under his operational control.
If it’s not under his direct control it’s not for lack of trying. The obvious implication of the finding is that we can’t afford to leave AQI intact, but that means a sustained campaign in Iraq and the left won’t like that. So expect them to stick with withdrawal on grounds that either (a) AQI wouldn’t have existed but for the U.S. invasion, ergo we sort of deserve to lie in the bed we made or (b) the NIE was cooked by Bush to justify a sustained campaign and should be dismissed out of hand. That’s their approach to the Anbar awakening and to certain inconvenient facts about Iran. It’ll also be their approach to this New York Sun scoop on one of the non-declassified assessments in the NIE placing AQ leadership in two areas bordering Afghanistan: to the east, the Pakistani tribal regions and to the west…
One of two known Al Qaeda leadership councils meets regularly in eastern Iran, where the American intelligence community believes dozens of senior Al Qaeda leaders have reconstituted a good part of the terror conglomerate’s senior leadership structure…
The other Shura Majlis is believed to meet in eastern Iran in the network established after Al Qaeda was driven from Afghanistan in 2001.
Following that battle, a military planner trained in the Egyptian special forces, Saif al-Adel, fled to Iran. Mr. Zawahri then arranged with the then commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Ahmad Vahidi, for safe harbor for senior leaders.
The three main Al Qaeda leaders in Iran include Mr. Adel; the organization’s minister of propaganda, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, and the man who some analysts believe is the heir apparent to Mr. bin Laden — one of his sons, Saad bin Laden. The locations of the senior leaders include a military base near Tehran called Lavizan; a northern suburb of Tehran, Chalous; an important holy city, Mashod, and a border town near Afghanistan, Zabul, the draft intelligence estimate says…
The late founder of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had multiple meetings with Mr. Adel after 2001. In the past year, the multinational Iraq command force has intercepted at least 10 couriers with instructions from the Iran-based Shura Majlis. In addition, two senior leaders of Al Qaeda captured in 2006 have shared details of the Shura Majlis in Iran…
An intelligence official sympathetic to the view that it is a matter of Iranian policy to cooperate with Al Qaeda disputed the CIA and State Department view that the Quds Force is operating as a rogue force. “It is just impossible to believe that what the Quds Force does with Al Qaeda does not represent a decision of the government,” the official, who asked not to be identified, said. “It’s a bit like saying the directorate of operations for the CIA is not really carrying out U.S. policy.”
If it’s true then we’d have to do something about it, so it must be a lie. Then again, what could we do even if we had the will? Trade them for the Irbil Five?
Incidentally, it’s not only Muslim terrorist groups who are considered a threat. Scroll down to the end here to see who else the feds have their eye on.
Update: Probably just an editing artifact but the paragraph at the end of the last link is now gone. It was a reference to non-Muslim threats like the Earth Liberation Front.
Meanwhile, a little more fuel for the fire in the “how much does Iran know?” debate.