The United States Treasury Department has announced sanctions against six members of an al-Qaida network headed by Syrian-born Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil who is based in Iran. In its statement, the Treasury Department said the network is "operating under an agreement between al-Qaida and the Iranian government."
According to the Treasury Department, since 2005, Iranian authorities have allowed Kahlil to move money and recruits from across the Middle East into Iran, then on to Pakistan for the benefit of al-Qaida's senior leaders.
Five other operatives were designated as part of the network, including Libyan-born Atiyah abd al-Rahman,al-Qaida's overall commander in Pakistan's tribal areas, who was previously appointed by Usama bin Laden as al-Qaida's emissary in Iran; and Umid Muhammadi, a key supporter of al-Qaida in Iraq. The Treasury Department said that Muhammadi "has been involved in planning multiple attacks in Iraq and has trained extremists in the use of explosives."
The United States has long been concerned about ties between Iran and al-Qaida. In 2004, a bipartisan commission investigating the cause of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States reported that "there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaida members into and out of Afghanistan, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers."
The State Department's annual report on international terrorism has noted that Iran's Qods [kuds] force has supplied militants in Iraq and Afghanistan with training and weapons that have killed U.S., Iraqi and Afghan troops, as well as civilians. In addition, the State Department reports that Iran remains unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qaida members detained in Iran, and refuses to publicly identify those senior members in its custody.
The Treasury Department's announcement reveals that al-Qaida is using Iran as a transit point to support its operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and puts Iran on notice that it must cut its ties with al-Qaida.