Source: Arab News By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed*
It all began from the “Services Office” in Afghanistan where Osama Bin Laden used to work.
Thirty years ago, the office was responsible for the recruitment of Saudis and other Arab young men as militants to fight the Soviet army. After the withdrawal of the Soviets, the office was closed.
During the 1990s, Afghanistan almost vanished from the international radar. It appeared as if Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri had been waiting for this very moment and wasted no time in re-opening the office, however, under a new name “Al-Qaeda.”
Over the next two decades, the same base was used to misguide youths and to remotely manage a war. Interestingly, the organization remained active against all countries except Iran and Israel.
After the toppling of Taleban regime in 2001, Al-Qaeda abandoned the idea of a control center and transformed itself into a loose network comprising various groups like Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or Al-Qaeda in the Islamic State of Morocco, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
If we understand the modus operandi of the old services office, which was to recruit young men to fight against the Soviets, it will be easier for us to understand Al-Qaeda in its fight against the other camp. The difference is that the war is now directed by Tehran and the Syrian regime from behind the scenes. They have carried out similar operations using Shiite youths in Lebanon and Kuwait. One of their prominent fighters was Imad Mughniyyeh. They came 10 years before Al-Qaeda and carried out operations like airplane hijacking, abductions of foreigners in Beirut and even made attempts on the life of the Kuwaiti emir.
Iran knew that these activities would lead to a direct confrontation with the global as well as the regional powers. I think that the Iranians, in cooperation with Assad’s security agencies, have been secretly running Al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda began to target states that are hostile to Iran, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the United States. Many Al-Qaeda leaders lived in Iran, like Saif Al-Adl and many others who fled Afghanistan, like Sulaiman Abu Gheith, and Bin Laden’s sons also moved to Iran. And not to forget two Saudi nationals, Nasir Al-Qar’awi and Majid Al-Majid. These people justified their moves by saying that they were using Iran to achieve their objectives.
It is in today’s Syria that we can see the true hand of Iran behind Al-Qaeda. Through its ISIS subsidiary, Al-Qaeda is trying to sabotage the Syrian revolution. They assassinated its leaders and attacked their areas. The ISIS won the Syrian war where Assad’s forces and Hezbollah’s militias, and Iraq’s Al-Haqq brigades failed.
For years we have been talking about “Al-Qaeda lie.” They have changed the true meanings of the holy war, or Jihad in Arabic.
Iran succeeded in using these groups to attack and undermine its rivals and adversaries in the area.
Thanks to this phony jihad, ISIS is now the power that is ruling over Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, while constituting a threat to the Gulf countries and Yemen, and persuading the Americans that they hold all the cards in the game.