We can’t ignore the funding of terrorism any longer – opinion

According to a report in The New York Times over the weekend, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, was killed in Tehran in August by Mossad agents acting on behalf of the US. Al-Masri, which means “The Egyptian,” is the nom de guerre of Egyptian-born Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who is believed to have been involved in the deadly bombings on August 7, 1998 of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was also considered a likely candidate to succeed al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.The report said al-Masri was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle on a Tehran street on August 7, 2020, exactly 22 years after the simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in which more than 200 people were killed. Iran immediately denied the report, saying there were no al-Qaeda “terrorists” on its soil. Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement that the US and Israel sometimes “try to tie Iran to such groups by lying and leaking false information to the media in order to avoid responsibility for the criminal activities of this group and other terrorist groups in the region.”While it is hard to independently confirm the story, it is not difficult to see why the Iranian regime would want to deny it.Al-Masri’s presence in the Iranian capital raises some serious questions. Given that al-Qaeda is a fundamentalist Sunni terrorist organization, its presence in the Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Iran indicates a connection of terrorist networks that crosses their religious affiliations but are united in their hatred of the US, Israel and the western world. It should be kept in mind that Iran has been a significant backer of Hamas, an offshoot of the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood; as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and the main supporter of Hezbollah.As The Jerusalem Post’s Seth J. Frantzman noted, “The report has important ramifications, not only for the dismantling of al-Qaeda and its senior leadership, but also for the region and US-Israeli cooperation.”

The reported targeted killing is an important reminder that apart from its nuclear program, Iran is endangering the world through its support of terrorism.The effects of Iranian-sponsored terrorism have been felt around the globe, through Hezbollah attacks in place as diverse as Argentina and Burgas, Bulgaria, to attacks regularly taking place against targets in Saudi Arabia.Israel has not made any official comment regarding the targeted killing, but that is in keeping with its policy in such cases. The report itself serves Israeli interests even without an official statement: Firstly, it sends another strong message to Iran that Israel is closely monitoring what goes on in the Islamic Republic and able to take action there. This targeted assassination, not the first, follows a series of mysterious fires and explosions at Iran’s nuclear facilities earlier this year and the heist of its nuclear archives from a Tehran warehouse in 2018, for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credited the Mossad.Both issues – Iran’s nuclear aspirations and its backing of global terrorism – remain high on Israel’s agenda and the government is clearly concerned that the incoming US administration under Joe Biden, unlike Trump, will not see eye-to-eye with Israel on how to confront Iran. Israel, of course, is not alone in its concerns regarding the Islamic Republic. Saudi Arabia, a frequent Iranian target, is also concerned that Biden might roll back the US policy on Iran. Similarly, the recently signed Abraham Accords between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are also seen as being based on similar concerns about Iranian intents. Iran has created a crescent of terrorism that expands from Tehran to Beirut and as far south as Yemen.If Iran is serving as a safe haven for al-Qaeda terrorists in addition to backing other terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, this should concern all decent peace-loving people everywhere – especially as Iran continues to advance its nuclear weapons capabilities. No government can afford to ignore the deadly implications of the combinations of terrorism and nuclear weapons. When Iran receives funds through the lifting of sanctions, the world must ask where this money is going and what it is supporting.



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