The CIA’s release of documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has again raised questions about Iran’s support of the extremist network leading up to the Sept 11 terror attacks.
US intelligence officials and prosecutors have long said Iran formed loose ties to the terror organization from 1991 on, something noted in a 19-page report in Arabic that was included in the release of some 47,000 other documents by the CIA.
For its part, Iran has long denied any involvement with al-Qaida. However, the report included in the CIA document dump shows how bin Laden, a Sunni extremist from Iran’s archrival Saudi Arabia, could look across the Muslim world’s religious divide to partner with the Mideast’s Shiite power to target his ultimate enemy, the United States.
“Anyone who wants to strike America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with their frank and clear rhetoric,” the report reads.
The Associated Press examined a copy of the report released by the Long War Journal, a publication backed by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank fiercely critical of Iran and sceptical of its nuclear deal with world powers. The CIA gave the Long War Journal early access to the material.
The material also included never-before-seen video of bin Laden’s son Hamza, who may be groomed to take over al-Qaida, getting married. It offers the first public look at Hamza bin Laden as an adult. Until now, the public has only seen childhood pictures of him.