The Relationship between Iranian Regime and Al Qaeda

Iran’s support to Shite Militias is not a controversy as Iran explicitly admits that support. Its secret and implicit support to AL Qaeda and its twins will be uncovered in this study through investigation of the reasons that underly their secret proximity. Evidence and hands-on proof will reveal their cooperation throughout this study.

  • Reasons for Cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda:
  • Similarity of extremist ideas
  • Mutual strategic objectives
  • Evidence of cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda
  • Formation of an office for Islamic movement by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards
  • Meditative role of Lebanese Hezbollah
  • Confessions of Muahmmed Jawad Larejani
  • American Report on attacks of September 11th
  • Hand-written diary of Usama Ben Laden that falls in 228 pages
  • 19-page document by one of the prominent leaders of Al Qaeda
  • Iran’s requests for handover of leaders of Mujahidi Khalk in return for leaders of AL Qaeda
  • Iran and Al Qaeda after 11September attacks
  • The relation between Iran and A Qaeda in Iraq
  • Payment of compensations to families of the victims of 11 September attacks
  • Iranian Regime and Al Qaeda

Right from the beginning, the Iranian Regime relied on dual pillars represented in internal suppression and the export of terrorism. Exporting terrorism and Islamic extremism characterized the strategy of the highest levels of the Iranian Regime during the last four decades.

Two big events related to the relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda became topics for discussion in news bulletins and political forums. The latest event was a proposal study for imbursements for families of the victims of September 11 attacks at one of the European courts. This came just after revealing new facts about the relations between Iran and Al Qaeda before 11th September 2001.  

Reasons for Cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda, similarity of extremist ideas

Creating some kind of an International government is the basic objective of the constitution of Iranian Regime, which considers the State of Faqih as an international leader for Muslims. Therefore, the constitution allows all means to attain this objective, that is firmly asserted in the constitution.

Reviewing the constitution of the State of the Faqih, we can see that cultural, social, political and economic institutions are based on Islamic principles and criteria that reflect the will of the Muslim Nation.

Looking at the intention of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, we can see that the goal is to support all the vulnerable against their superiors. The Iranian constitution lays the foundations for the continuation of the revolution inland and abroad as well as reinforcing the relationships with Islamic and public movements. It seeks to build one international community, and exert efforts to save deprived and suppressed peoples throughout the World. 

Article 11 of the Iranian constitution considers Muslims to be one nation and therefore, Iranian Government should design all its policies on the basis of Muslim solidarity and unity. Iranian Government should continue its efforts to achieve the political, cultural and economic unity of the Islamic World.    

As a result of its adherence to the constitution, the Iranian Regime has legalized all its crimes in and outside Iran. The explicit objective of Islamic extremism is to forcefully apply the Islamic rules. This is the common concept shared by Iranian Regime and Salafism in other areas of the Islamic World. The State of Faqih is best described as the divine rule of clergymen and Caliphates. Despite their verbal hostility and disputes, Shia and Sunni extremists belong to the same basic ideology that is clearly noticed in their believes and sets of behavior. 

Mutual strategic objectives

Islamic groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS are not similar to Hezbollah for example or the Shia militias of Iraq, which receive orders directly from Tehran. Nevertheless, they are not enemies either. Seemingly, there are disputes between Iran and extremist Sunni groups, but in reality, there are many common issues, most important of which is the antagonism with the United States of America and Arabic Regimes. Adhering to this, Iran has never been reluctant to help and cooperate with Al Qaeda through logistic support for ISIS and Al Qaeda as long as it is in favor of Iran’s interests.

Abu Hafes Al Muritani led the negotiations with Iran about availing a safe haven for some of Al Qaeda activists following the fall of Taliban in Afghanistan as a result of the 11 September attacks in 2001. In one of the documents found in former headquarter of Usama Ben Laden, Abu Hafes says: “The hostility between Iran and the United States of America is a real and true one. Those who say that the verbal curses and pretense of hostility is no more a drama, are ignorant of facts. Iranians are deviant Twelve and Imam Shia[1] and their doctrine is well known to us. Their opinion of us is also well-known and clear to us a Sunnis in general and Salafists in particular. We already know their lust to rule the Islamic World. We do know that they have a tailored national and sectarian doctrine that is in harmony with their wishes. Their mottos are not a mystery. Yet, they are ready to help the most Salafist groups as long as there is an interest, no matter a temporary one. If interests are no longer there, they throw their allies away at the appropriate time. For example, if any one wants to attack the United States, Iran is ready to help him with money, weapons and whatever needed. This proxy war helps Iranians to avoid any direct indulgence. They are seriously working against the United States of America, but they are careful not to leave any trace or pretext for the United States of America. They are skillful enough to leave no traces that lead to them. Iran offered Saudis who were deported from Afghanistan all kinds of help including money, weapons and training at Hezbollah camps in Lebanon in return for targeting American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. Iran has been contacting a group of Uzbeks, whom I know and we keep in touch with, to offer them help including money, weapons, safe passage and residency in Iran in return for attacking American targets in Uzbekistan. You might be astonished that a Salafist person or group might be supported by Iran, the deviant Shia, to attack the United States of America. A person who has never experienced this will not be liable to believe it. Many people can’t find out an interpretation of this and might suspect this connection due to lack of knowledge. It is very clear to those who have experienced this relationship between Iran and Salafists. Although it might seem strange enough, I can assure you for confirmation that if Muhammed Ben Abdul Wahab, the godfather of Salafists was alive and wanted to target the United States of America, Iran would be happy to support him if that could be possible for it.          

Evidence of cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda

On the 10th of September 2017, French Le Monde Journal wrote an essay entitled “Geopolitics, the dangerous relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda”. In this essay, Le Monde says that Iranian Regime availed money, weapons, training and access for personnel, money and communications to Al Qaeda. 

Al Qaeda easily settled in Iran under close eye of Iranian Intelligence. They were offered a haven and special reception, but Iran was keen on controlling their movements in favor of Iran’s interests. Iranian Regime offered those Qaeda fighters all kinds of weapons and training at Hezbollah Camps in Lebanon providing that they target American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.

Formation of an office for Islamic movements by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards

In an exclusive interview, Jawad Mansouri, the first leader of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran and a deputy of Foreign Minister in 1981, he said that provision of help to terrorist and extremist groups had started in 1979. According to Mansouri, terrorists used to go to Rafeek Dust, Logistic Manager of the Revolutionary Guards, to get money and weapons.

“In April 1981, the Islamic Movements Office was formally established as part of the Revolutionary Guards. Shaheed Raja’e was Foreign Minister and I was his deputy. We used to hold regular meetings. In one of those meetings, I told him that there were eight bodies getting money from the Iranian Government for the export of revolution. I asked him to invite leaders of those eight bodies for a meeting so as to delegate one focal leader who could get the money for them all, and all other leaders will be accountable under his supervision.” Jawad Mansouri added.  

 Beginning of the 1980s, Mahdi Hashemi, who was in charge of Liberation Movements Unit of the Revolutionary Guards, made a report and submitted it to Ayatullah Husein Ali Muntazery. The report included details of the activities of Iranian Regime to identify, establish and support extremist groups in Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Morocco. The term used by the Iranian Regime to describe these extremist groups was “Liberation Movements”.

Meditative role of Lebanese Hezbollah

Iran was successful in dealing with Al Qaeda through a third party to avoid any consequences of direct relationship. To do this, Iran used Hezbollah for this task. In 1992 Usama Ben Laden met Immad Mughniah, a high rank military leader of Hezbollah, who was the perpetrator of the attack on American military base in Beirut in 1983. The meeting was intended to prepare for another meeting to be attended by Ben Laden, Mughniah and brigadier Muhammed Baker Ze Al Kadre of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who was head of Staff of Revolutionary Guards in Sudan in 1993. According to Iranian Resistance Movement, these meetings were the road map for cooperation between Al Qaeda and Hezbollah under supervision of Iran.    

Before 11 September attacks, Iran was basically involved in providing training, explosives and logistic support through Lebanese Hezbollah. On the 7th of August 1998, A Qaeda successfully used the terrorist tactics of Hezbollah which had destructive effects. Al Qaeda simultaneously blew the two American Embassies in Nairobi in Kennya and Dar Al Salm in Tanzania. The two terrorist attacks killed 223 persons and injured thousands.

On the 28th of November 2011, the local court of Colombia State found out that these two attacks would have never been possible without the support of Iran and Sudan.

Confessions of Muahmmed Jawad Larejani

Mid 1990s, high officials of Al Qaeda negotiated Iran for a safe passage from Iran to Afghanistan, and Iranian authorities ordered border guards not to seal passports of Al Qaeda fighters and leaders to avoid any suspicion by their governments that they passed through Iran to Afghanistan.
On 30th may 2018 Muhammed Jawad Larejani said in an interview with Iranian Satellite Channel II that all fighters of Al Qaeda, who wanted to travel anywhere, used to arrive by air or carriages. Iranian Authorities asked us not to seal their passports because if a country like Saudi Arabia knew about this, fighters would be exposed to real problems. “Our Government did agree on their requests because it was a transit travel. Fighters used to spend few hours in Iran before leaving to Afghanistan. 

Al Qaeda was established in 1988, and was based in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. When Taliban came to power, Al Qaeda moved to Afghanistan. In the meanwhile, Iran was cooperating with it, sometimes through a mediator due to the ill fame of the latter. This cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda started in 1990 in Sudan and continued when it moved to Afghanistan. However, the relationship could be traced in Iran before, during and after the 11 September attacks. The Joint Committee on 11 September 2001 issued its formal report on the events that preceded the 11 September attacks. A separate section of the report was dedicated to the relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda.
“The discussions that were spotted in Sudan between Al Qaeda and Iranian Officials end of 1990 led to an informal agreement on providing Iranian training support to Al Qaeda on attacks that were intended to target the United States of America and Israel. Shortly after that, high officials of Al Qaeda travelled to Iran to continue training on detonations.” The report said.     

The report also stated that intelligence information confirmed continuous communication between Iranian Security Officials and leaders of Al Qaeda after Usama Ben Laden returned to Afghanistan. Tawfeek Ben Atash, known as Khallad, said that Iran was very keen on reinforcing its relationships with Al Qaeda after the American USS Destroyer Cole was attacked by Al Qaeda on 12th October 2000. But, Usama Ben Laden was not so keen on improving relationships with Iran for fear of losing his followers in Saudi Arabia. Khalad, among other detainees, spoke about Iran’s readiness to facilitate the movements of members and leaders of Al Qaeda across Iran to and from Afghanistan. Supervisors of Border gates were instructed not to put any seal on passports of members and leaders of Al Qaeda. This step was very useful for Saudis who wanted to escape penalties in Saudi Arabia.

Report of the Joint Committee on 11 September attacks stated that 8-10 out of 14 Saudi activists had travelled to or from Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.

In brief, there are irrefutable evidences that Iran facilitated movements of Al Qaeda to and from Afghanistan before 11 September attacks. Some of those who were helped by Iran took part in the Highjacks on 11th September 2001.

Hand-written diary of Usama Ben Laden that falls in 228 pages

On the 10th of November 2016, American New York Times quoted a high official of Secretary of State: “This is the biggest document of Al Qaeda abducted so far. Studying these documents, we can figure out that there has been a close cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda, but former President Barack Obama prevented any disclosure of these leaks.”

On 20th of May 2015 and 1st of March 2016, American National Intelligence Bureau published many documents that were abducted when Usama Ben Laden’s house was broken into in Abut Abad in 2011. One of these documents was a letter sent by Usama Ben Laden to a terrorist named “Kareem”. In that letter, Usama clarified the existence of good ties between Iran and Al Qaeda. “It is our vital artery that avails money, employees, communication and chance for hostages exchange. There is no need to fight Iran except when inevitable.” Ben Laden said. He strongly recommended not to launch any attack on Iran.

In another letter, Ben Laden reveals how members of Al Qaeda were given a haven after 11 September attacks when they were allowed to enter Iran through formal gates and in different ways. One month later, fighters’ families joined them.

19-page document by one of the prominent leaders of Al Qaeda

This document, which was published in Atlantic Magazine in the United States of America on 11th of November 2017, says that Head of Sharia Council of Al Qaeda entered Iran through Taftan border crossing in Baluchistan and met Kasem Sulaimani, commander of Al Kuds squadron.  

In the Summer of 2002, high rank leaders of Al Qaeda like Saif Al A’del. Abu Muhammed Al Masri and Abu Musa’ab Al Suri gradually entered Iran. The Military Council of Al Qaeda was restructured in Iran and the first outcome was blasting three residential compounds in Riyadh, Capital of Saudi Arabia in 2003. These attacks killed 35 persons, 9 of which were Americans.

The secret documents, that have been recently abducted in Usama Ben Laden’s head quarter in Abut Abad in Pakistan, include a 19-page report made by a high rank official of Al Qaeda. The documents say that one of Al Qaeda members, known as Abu Hafs, negotiated Iran about having a safe haven for some activists of Al Qaeda following the collapse of Taliban in Afghanistan as a result of 11 September attacks in the United States of America. On 11th of September 2001.   

Iran’s requests for handover of leaders of Mujahidi Khalk in return for leaders of AL Qaeda

During a meeting that was held in May 2003 by Iranian officials and their counter American ones, Iranians proposed the exchange of Leaders of Al Qaeda for leaders of Mujahedi Khalk – Iranian Opposition – who were based in Ashraf Camp in Iraq under American mandate. Zalmai Khalil Zad, American Ambassador to Iraq, former ambassador to Afghanistan and the United Nations, attended the meeting. In one of his books he stated that Iranians publicized the possibility of exchanging leaders of Al Qaeda for Leaders of Mujahedi Khalk.
Without mentioning his name, a high rank official of the Central Intelligence Agency CIA, told National Broadcasting Company NBC on 24th of June 2005 that many offers were presented through a third party and none of these was a diplomatic one.

Iran and Al Qaeda after 11September attacks

As for Al Qaeda Following 11 September attacks and the International Community decided to terminate Al Qaeda, Iran didn’t only mitigate its involvement with this doomed organization, but also pretended to be an enemy of Al Qaeda. On some occasions, Iran claimed to prosecute members of Al Qaeda who had been granted a safe haven in Iran. But, this never happened. Iran didn’t even threaten any of those members of Al Qaeda hosted by on its lands.

Leaders of Al Qaeda like head of the security committee, Saif Al A’del, head of department of training, Ahmad Abdulla Ahmad, known as Abi Muhammed Al Masri and Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, Of Al Qaeda in Iraq went to Iran. Ben Laden’s two sons, Hamza and Sa’ad also went to Iran. Adel, who is described by security experts and analysts to be the founder and godfather of Al Qaeda, and convicted of blasting the two American embassies in the East of Africa, was once in Iran as an Executive Manager of Al Qaeda.

Ayman Al Zawaheri, the second leading figure of Al Qaeda, utilized a 10-years long relationship with Commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier Ahmad Wahedi, for availing a safe haven to some of the leaders of Al Qaeda when they were besieged in Tura Bura mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.

Muhfouz Ben Al Waleed, a companion of Usama Ben Laden for ten years before 11 September Attacks, became a strong figure in the Leaders’ Council of Al Qaeda after and was in charge of the legal committee. On the 20th of December 2001, he travelled to Iran by forged documents. Ansar Al Mahdi, an elect division of Al Kuds squadron.  received him before he finally managed to meet Kasim Sulaimani in Tehran.   

On the 21st of May 2003, American High Rank Official told New York Times that Central Intelligence Agency did not use to make mistakes when concluded that at least ten of the most important leaders of Al Qaeda had led terrorist activities from Iran.

Saudi Prince, Turkey Al Faisal, former president of Saudi Intelligence and former ambassador to the United States of America said in an article published by Middle East on 12th January 2015 that following 11 September attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Regime allowed leaders of Al Qaeda to flee to Iran and availed a safe haven. In 2003, the Iranian Regime helped leaders of Al Qaeda to move from Iran to Iraq and form Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

The relation between Iran and A Qaeda in Iraq

In a 125-page report dated 6th September 2004, the German Federal Office for Criminal Investigation clarified how Abu Musa’ab Al Zarkawi constructed new safe camps in Zahadan, Asfahan and Tehran under close eye of the Iranian Authorities. Consequently, Iran became a center for Al Zarkawi growing network that extended from North Caucasus to Syria, Turkey and Europe. All that was achieved with the help of forged passports, money and instructions that controlled all that network.

According to intelligence reports received by Iranian Opposition represented by Mujahedi Khalk in 2005, Al Zarkawi used to have many safe houses in Iran including one in Niaweran to the North of Tehran. This area is known for intense security measures.

Al Zarkawi used to have many phone numbers with fake names to be used for governing all these areas. Al Zarkawi was killed on the 7th of June 2006 in an air raid by International Coalition. What Zarkawi had done led to the establishment of Isalmic State in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS which is still led by Ibraheem Awad Ibraheem Al Badri, known as Abu Baker Al Baghdadi.

Payment of compensations to families of the victims of 11 September attacks

According to Reuters, courts in London paved the way for investigations and payment of compensations to families of the victims of 11 September attacks in order to justify the confiscation of properties of Iran in Britain. Reuters added that according to courts in New York, there are evidences of both financial and logistic support by Iranian Regime to these terrorist attacks.

The issue of compensations goes back to 2004 when a petition was raised to demand charging Iran with compensations. This note was first sent to the Federal Court in New York, but it was not activated due to the ratification of sovereignty law. According to this law, which was passed in 1976, it is not permissible to prosecute foreign governments by American courts. However, in 2016, the Congress approved the permission of prosecuting foreign government for provision of support to terrorist attacks. This Congress decision gave chance for amendment of that law so as to allow families of the victims of 11 September attacks to prosecute foreign governments convicted of supporting terrorist groups. Responding to this complaint, the American Federal Court issued a judicial decision that was supposed to force Iran to pay compensations.    

A British court intends to permit some families of the victims of 11 September attacks to confiscate parts of Iranian assets for their favor. If approved by the British court, the request of families of the victims of 11 September attacks entails that Iranian funds and assets in the United Kingdom will be confiscated.

The total compensation imposed on Iranian Regime has gone up from 7 to 11 billion USD. Compensation funds are being calculated as follows:

The number of victims of 11 September attacks is 3000 persons and so many people injured. In addition, a great number of associations and enterprises raised lawsuits. 

According to a judicial decision issued by the Federal Court in New York, the Iranian Regime must pay 12,500000 USD to the victims’ husbands and 500,000 USD to their fathers and sons. The Iranian Regime must also pay 4, 500,000 USD to their sisters and brothers. 


The information above reveals the intercorrelation between the Iranian Regime and Al Qaeda together with its related factions. Cooperation was established before 11 September attacks and is still ongoing. The above-mentioned evidence is just part of other proofs that reveal the cooperation between the Iranian regime and Al Qaeda, and what is uncovered is more dangerous.

The Iranian Regime is the spiritual godfather of terrorism in the region and the World. It is suppressing the Iranian people, and it is spreading terrorism, extremism and reactionism. It is dependent on terrorism which is an essential necessity to survive.

This reality has been clear during the previous years to legitimate parliaments and world outstanding figures. The regime was considered as the biggest terrorism bank support all over the world. Despite international condemnation, policies and strategies are based on economic interests of Western governments. These interests prevented Western countries from taking practical procedures like detention of agents of governmental terrorism and taking judicial and penal procedures.        

Thus, this regime should be confronted in the region, and all its terrorist agents and militias should be expelled from the region particularly in Syria and Iraq. There should be a comprehensive campaign to scandalize and sanction the so – called Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah all over the world. Sanctions should be imposed on Revolutionary Guards and Al Quds squadron, and to cut off their several support resources. 

[1] Many Shia Muslims believe the last of these 12 successors to Muhammad, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi, will rein in a new era of a righteous rule over the earth.

Copyright © 2019 The Middle East and North Africa Media Monitor.