Category Archives: Iran and Sunni jihadis

Fifteen Years After 9/11

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 11, 2016

Originally published at The International Business Times

1

Fifteen years on from the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US, al-Qaeda is better-positioned than ever before. Its leadership held, and it has rebuilt a presence in Afghanistan. More importantly, al-Qaeda has built powerful regional branches in India, North Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

Rebranding itself away from the savagery of Iraq, al-Qaeda has sought to embed itself in local populations by gaining popular legitimacy to shield itself from retribution if, or when, it launches terrorist strikes in the West. This is proceeding apace, above all because of a failure to assist the mainstream opposition in Syria, sections of which were forced into interdependency with al-Qaeda to resist the strategy of massacre and expulsion conducted by the Assad regime. Continue reading

Iran’s Partnership with al-Qaeda and Unanswered Questions

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 19, 2015

Imad Mughniyeh and Osama bin Laden

Imad Mughniyeh and Osama bin Laden

The Islamic Republic of Iran released five senior al-Qaeda terrorists in March, ostensibly as part of a prisoner exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But the murky circumstances in which al-Qaeda’s leaders were “held” in Iran and other inconsistencies cast some doubt on this version of events, and draw attention to some old questions about Iran’s support for al-Qaeda and its affiliates and offshoots. Continue reading

Does Iran Support The Islamic State?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 26, 2015

Qassem Suleimani, Iran's spymaster, believed in some MidEast conspiracy theories to control ISIS

Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s spymaster, believed in some Mid-East conspiracy theories to control ISIS

In 2010, Farzad Farhangian, an Iranian diplomat based in Belgium, defected to Norway. Farhangian has now emerged with the extraordinary accusation that the Islamic Republic of Iran is controlling the Islamic State (ISIS) and using it as part of Tehran’s war against the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia. Farhangian’s accusations are lurid and (literally) incredible, but the question of Iran’s role in ISIS’ creation and growth, and Iran’s manipulation of ISIS to further its own ends, is one well worth asking. Continue reading

The Long History of Middle Eastern State-Terrorism In Paris

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 19, 2015

Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi

Last week, Lee Smith wrote of the reasons that it was likely that there was a foreign hand, quite probably that of a State, in the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish deli in Paris. Smith noted that the French believe that the funding and weapons for the attacks came from abroad. Smith pointed to the historical record, in which terrorism in Paris is typically not carried out because of religion—or not directly: it might come from States that see themselves as god’s representatives on earth—or community grievances, but “because you’re getting paid to stage an operation on behalf of a particular cause or regime.” Smith gave three cases, and they seemed worth expanding on. Continue reading

A Syrian Rebel Commander Accuses Iran of Helping The Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 25, 2014

Is there anything Hajj Qassem can't do?

Is there anything Hajji Qassem can’t do?

Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO) has published an article by Yvonne Ridley that consists of an interview with Hassan Abboud just a few hours before he and most of the Ahrar a-Sham leadership were killed on September 9. The accusations Ridley records Abboud levelling against the Islamic State (I.S.) are deeply upsetting to the conventional view of the Syrian conflict. Continue reading