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Sunni Islamists Websites in Iraq Claim Iranian Top-Secret Document Reveals Iran/Al-Qaeda Contacts Months Before 9/11

MEMRI
November 7, 2006 - No. 1347
http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD134706

In early October 2006, Sunni Islamist websites affiliated with the jihad groups in Iraq posted what they claimed was a top-secret Iranian document. The document, dated May 2001, indicates contacts between top Al-Qaeda figures and the highest echelons of the Iranian intelligence apparatus, which is part of the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and can be viewed at the end of this document. [1]

Evidence of Iran/Al-Qaeda cooperation had already been allegedly exposed in 2003 by the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and by Voice of America in interviews with an officer in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hamid Reza Zakeri, who defected to the West.

The publication of the document at this time may be part of the mounting tension between Sunni Islamists and Shi'ites in Iraq.

The following are excerpts from the document and the interviews:


1. Document from Khamenei's Intelligence Apparatus

The document posted on Sunni websites is signed by the head of Khamenei's intelligence apparatus, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri. It includes statements by Khamenei regarding the importance of the Iranian and Muslim struggle against the U.S. and Israel, which "constitutes the primary goal" of the Iranian regime. It also mentions the need to tighten Iran's cooperation with "the fighters of Al-Qaeda and Hizbullah," but warns that utmost caution must be taken in maintaining ties with Al-Qaeda, since such ties, if revealed, could have "irreversible negative consequences" for Iran. The document further states that, on Khamenei's orders, all cooperation with Al-Qaeda will be overseen by his office and should be carried out only through Hizbullah Operations Officer 'Imad Mughniyah and Bin Laden's deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

The following is a translation of the document:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Intelligence Apparatus of the Supreme Leader - Top Secret.

"Date: May 14, 2001.

"Reference: 4-325-80/s/m

"By: Head of the Intelligence Apparatus of the Supreme Leader

"To: Head of Operations Unit No. 43 [in the Iranian Intelligence Ministry]

"Re: Orders regarding the decisions of the Honorable Leader [Khamenei]

"[Dear] Hujjat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimin [Mustafa] Pourkanad, [director-general of Operations Unit No. 43], we wish your dedicated and courageous team every success. The results [described] in your recent reports have been examined, along with other opinions. After consideration, and in order to remove the existing lack of clarity regarding support for Al-Qaeda's future plans, the Honorable Leader [Khamenei] has emphasized that 'the battle against the global arrogance headed by the U.S. and Israel is an integral part of our Islamic government, and constitutes its primary goal. Damaging their economic systems, discrediting all other institutions of these two allied enemies of the Islamic government [in Iran] as part of [our] political confrontation [with them], and undermining the stability and security [of the U.S. and Israel] are [all] obligatory duties that must be carried out.'

"The Honorable [Leader Khamenei] stressed the need for each of you to be vigilant in his field of activity, and asks you to be particularly attentive [in dealing with the issue at hand]. He also stressed [the need] to be alert to the [possible] negative future consequences of this cooperation [between Iran and Al-Qaeda].

"The Honorable [Khamenei] said that this struggle must be stepped up by tightening the collaboration with other security and intelligence apparatuses in Iran and with supporters outside Iran, thereby hindering the enemy's steadily expanding activities.

"[Khamenei further instructed] that in carrying out your duties, you must operate under the direct supervision of the security division of the headquarters of the organization [i.e. the intelligence apparatus of the Supreme Leader]. Naturally, identifying [potential] damage is the responsibility of the vigilant and diligent Unit [No. 43 of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry].

"It has also been decided that, in the upcoming meetings, discussions must be held in order to formulate clear goals and remove the main obstacles and difficulties in achieving these goals and in promoting the issue of expanding the collaboration with the fighters of Al-Qaeda and Hizbullah [Lebanon].

"Finally, I wish to convey [Khamenei's] full satisfaction with Unit [No. 43] and his full support [of this unit] in the implementation of its future plans. The Honorable [Khamenei] is aware of the important and dangerous [nature of] the tasks you perform. [He] emphasizes that, with regard to cooperation with Al-Qaeda, no traces must be left that might have negative and irreversible consequences, and that [the activity] must be limited to the existing contacts with [Hizbullah Operations Officer 'Imad] Mughniyah and [Bin Laden's deputy Ayman] Al-Zawahiri.

"May Allah grant you success.

"Sincerely,

"20th of [the Muslim month of] Safar.

"[Seal and Signature:] Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri

"Head of the Intelligence Apparatus of the Supreme Leader

"[Seal:] The Islamic Republic of Iran

"The Intelligence Apparatus of the Supreme Leader, [founded] 1999.

"Department Secretariat [illegible number + signature]

"[Seal:] Archived

"Date of reception: September 14, 2004.

"Copy sent to the Security Department Headquarters for implementation.

"Top Secret"

2. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Interview with Senior Iranian Official Hamid Reza Zakeri

The contacts between the Iranian regime and top Al-Qaeda operatives was exposed in a February 2003 report in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, [2] in an interview with Hamid Reza Zakeri, a senior official in Iran's Revolutionary Guards who had defected to the West, and who disclosed information regarding cooperation of the Revolutionary Guards and Iranian intelligence apparatuses - which are affiliated with Supreme Leader Khamenei and operate on his orders - with organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, and the Palestinian and Egyptian jihad organizations.

According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Zakeri had worked as a supervisor and director of intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards, and had then moved to the Defense Ministry, where he served in several positions for a number of years. Later, he joined the intelligence apparatus of the Supreme Leader's Office, where he was a supervisor of the apparatus's secretariat, and learned of the secret contacts maintained by the Revolutionary Guards and Iranian intelligence apparatuses with revolutionary forces in the region.

The paper further said that Zakeri revealed details of Imad Mughniyah's role in some of the joint operations funded by Iranian intelligence and carried out by the Islamic Jihad and other fundamentalist organizations.

The following are excerpts from the interview:

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Who are you?"

Zakeri: "My name is Hamid Reza Zakeri, and I was born in 1962 in the city of Najafabad in the Isfahan district. From the outbreak of the revolution until 1985, I worked with the revolutionary committees and the [Revolutionary] Guards in Isfahan. Later, I moved to Tehran, where I was in charge of the [Revolutionary] Guards in the capital's 10th District. At that time, the regional commander was Mahdi Mubligh. That district was considered the central command, and was headed by Mohsen Rezai (later Guards commander and now Expediency Council secretary). I was also in close contact with Hajj Morteza Rezai (head of Revolutionary Guards intelligence), and on his instructions I carried out dangerous missions on the Iraqi front during [the Iran-Iraq war]. In 1986, I was part of a group of 400 [Revolutionary] Guards officers attached to the new Defense Ministry, which was established at that time."

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "What was your position at the Defense Ministry?"

Zakeri: "I underwent special training and I studied abroad because I was an alumnus of the Imam Baqer College (a college belonging to the Defense Ministry, attended by security personnel). Naturally, my area was espionage and counter-espionage, and administration of domestic security matters. After a few years, I completed a prestigious course at the [Department] of Strategic and Security Affairs."

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Did you know about the plans to attack the World Trade Center in New York?"

Zakeri: "No, but at our headquarters we had models of the [WTC] two towers, the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA building at Langley. Thus, Imad Mughniyah came to Iran, met with a number of top officials in the security apparatus of the Leader [Khamenei], and gave them a letter from Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, which said: 'We need your help to carry out a most important mission in the land of the 'Great Satan.' The issue was presented but his request was denied. Afterwards, it was decided by the head of our department and Nateq Nouri's deputy, head of the investigations section in the Leader's [Khamenei's] Office and his representative in the Higher Council for Security, to entrust Mughniyah with maintaining the contacts with Al-Zawahiri and his comrades, provided he did not get involved in their activity."

3. A Corroborating VOA Report by Hamid Reza Zakeri

The existence of the secret document by the intelligence apparatus of the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei regarding cooperation with Al-Qaeda, translated above, together with the information on Al-Zawahiri's connections with the heads of the Iranian regime and his meeting in Iran with top Iranian officials a short time before 9/11, were likewise mentioned by Hamid Reza Zakeri, also in June 2003, on the VOA website (www.voanews.com). Following are the main points of this report as it appeared in Farsi under the headline "An Iranian Refugee's Statement about Iran's Part in the 9/11 Attacks on America." [3]

"Hamid Reza Zakeri says that he worked in the security division of [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and personally guarded two meetings between Al-Qaeda [activists] and top Iranian officials.

"According to Zakeri, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, who was [at the time] head of Khamenei's intelligence apparatus [and Iranian parliamentary speaker from 1996 through 2000], was the mediator and liaison with Al-Qaeda representing the Leader [Khamenei].

"In a May 14, 2001 letter by Nateq Nouri, Hujjat [Al-Islam] Mustafa Pourkanad, [head of Operations Unit No. 43] of the intelligence apparatus [of Iranian Leader Khamenei], ordered cooperation and coordination with Al-Qaeda. [4]

"Zakeri noted that the first meeting was with bin Laden's representative [Ayman] Al-Zawahiri, in January 2001, after [Al-Zawahiri] arrived together with 29 others for a four-day visit to Iran...

"According to Zakeri, the talks with Al-Zawahiri progressed [so] well that Bin Laden sent his eldest son Sa'd Bin Laden to Iran, four months and one week before September 11. [Sa'd Bin Laden] was smuggled [into Iran] through Teibad [on the Afghanistan-Iran] border [in northwest Iran] to the air force base at Damavand [north of Tehran]. He stayed in Iran for three weeks, but held only one meeting with Khamenei in Jamaran [Khamenei's headquarters in Tehran]. Participating in this meeting were [top Iranian officials] [Ali Akbar] Hashemi Rafsanjani, [chairman of the Expediency Council]; Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi [Assembly of Experts member and former head of the Judiciary]; [Ayatollah Mohammad Reza] Mahdavi Kani [secretary-general of the conservative organization Jame'e-i Rohanioun-e Mobarez]; and [Ayatollah] Ali Meshkini [head of the Experts Assembly since 1999]..."

4. Appendix: The Document by Khamenei's Intelligence Organization, as Posted on Islamist Sunni Websites



[1] An English translation of the document was posted by an Iranian dissident on his private blog (http://www.venusproject.com/ecs/Al_Qaida_Ruling_Mullahs.html ). It should be noted, however, that this translation does not fully correspond to the Farsi original, which is brought in the appendix to this dispatch.

[2] For the full report, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 473, "Top Iranian Defector On Iran's Collaboration with Iraq, North Korea, Al-Qa'ida, and Hizbullah," February 21, 2003,

http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP47303.

[3] Voice of America in Persian, June 11, 2006, http://www.voanews.com/persian/archive/2003-06/a-2003-06-11-11-1.cfm.

[4] See translation, above.



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