Margolis: Iran U.S. whipping boy
- Those who deceived America into attacking Iraq may be at it again.
Iran new U.S. whipping boy
By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor
Did Iran help al-Qaida stage the Sept. 11 attacks on the United
Perhaps, suggested the U.S. 9/11 commission. It claimed Iran allowed
eight al-Qaida future airplane hijackers to pass through Iran from
Afghanistan between seven and 11 months prior to the attacks on
Unnamed senior Bush administration officials also claim Iran proposed
collaborating with al-Qaida in 2000, but was rejected by Osama bin
Laden. "Maybe we attacked the wrong country," one of the dimmer
lights in Congress ruefully observed.
There has been no real evidence produced that Iran knew of the 9/11
attacks or assisted them. In fact, the Bush administration has still
never produced the white paper promised by Colin Powell in late 2001
proving bin Laden and al-Qaida were behind 9/11.
Why would Iran, knowing it was in Bush's gunsights, join in a
monstrous terrorist attack that, if linked to Tehran, could have
conceivably brought U.S. nuclear retaliation?
This column has long predicted the Bush administration would
orchestrate a pre-election crisis over Iran designed to whip up
patriotic fervour in the U.S. and distract public and media attention
from the Iraq fiasco.
The growing clamour over Iran's nuclear intentions, with rumblings
about air strikes against Iran's reactors in the fall, may prove to
be a part of just such a manufactured crisis.
Remember, these latest fevered claims about Iran come from the
same "reliable intelligence sources" and neo-conservative hawks who
insisted Iraq had a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that
threatened the U.S., with intimate links to al-Qaida.
The Iran-Afghan border is 1,000 km of wild, broken terrain that is
extremely difficult to police. Large numbers of smugglers cross this
border on countless hidden trails, bringing hashish and gems into
Iran. The U.S., with fleets of planes, helicopters and sensors,
cannot stop a flood of undocumented Mexicans crossing its own
Why should the poorly equipped Iranians do any better?
Didn't these same 9/11 hijackers also enter the U.S. unchallenged? Of
course. They slipped unnoticed into Iran and the U.S. No one knew
their intentions. This is the most likely explanation.
Iran does not have a unified government. This nation of 72.5 million
is afflicted by feuding factions that have produced a state of
political chaos. Iran has certainly been involved in acts of
terrorism, notably against Jews in Argentina.
And militants from the intelligence service or Pasdarann
(Revolutionary Guards), might have let al-Qaida mujahidin slip across
the border without Tehran's knowledge.
But far more important are two key facts that most media and the
government aren't telling you.
First, Iran and al-Qaida were bitter enemies.
In Afghanistan, al-Qaida ardently backed the Pushtun-dominated, Sunni
Taliban movement, which hated Shia as heretics and killed large
numbers of them. Shia Iran (and Russia) armed and supported the
Taliban's greatest foe, Ahmad Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance,
composed of Dari (a Persian dialect)-speaking Tajiks, Afghan
communists, and Shia. Massoud was a long-time collaborator with
After the Taliban killed a group of Iranian intelligence agents, Iran
almost invaded Afghanistan to overthrow them.
Just before 9/11, al-Qaida assassinated Massoud.
Iran quietly aided the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that overthrew
the Taliban, and jailed scores of al-Qaida members, including one of
bin Laden's sons.
Active Iranian co-operation with al-Qaida seems illogical. Of course
my enemy's enemy is my friend, and collaboration was theoretically
possible, but Iran derived no benefit whatever from the 9/11 attacks -
- quite the contrary.
Second, the Bush administration and former Clinton officials are
trading accusations that the other was responsible for failing to
take action against al-Qaida and its Taliban allies prior to 9/11.
But what no one admits is that both administrations sent millions in
aid to the Taliban until four months before 9/11.
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