Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Weekly Standard Alleges An ‘Iran-Al Qaeda Connection’ In WikiLeaks Cables That Doesn’t Exist


While many conservatives are reacting to the WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cables release with hyperbolic rage and vindictiveness, the neoncons appear to view the doc dump as an opportunity. Take Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who this week said that his top takeaway is that the U.S. should attack Iran because some Arab leaders have urged American officials to take action (other cables, however, reveal Arab officials imploring restraint).

Now, in a Weekly Standard article titled, “WikiLeaks: The Iran-Al Qaeda Connection” and subtitled, “What a leaked State Department cable says about the mullahs’ collusion with al Qaeda,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies fellow Thomas Joscelyn appeared to find what the neocons need: an Iranian connection to Al-Qaeda (see late 2002-early 2003 for a preview).

What is the evidence? Joscelyn found a cable from September 2009 in which Saudi Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Prince Nayif bin Abdulaziz “complained” to U.S. top counterterror official John Brennen that “over the past two years Iran has hosted Saudis (all Sunnis) — including Osama bin Laden’s son Ibrahim — who had contacts with terrorists and worked against the Kingdom.” To bolster his case, Joscelyn notes previous reports that Ibrahim’s brother, Saad, and another wanted terrorist, Abdullah al Qarawi, had both “operated inside Iran” at some point.

Joscelyn makes the leap that, because a Saudi official told an American official of concerns that Iran “hosted Saudis…who had contacts with terrorists” and “operated” in Iran at some point, Iran’s leaders are therefore “connected” and “colluding” with Al-Qaeda. Nevermind the fact that the terrorists have also “operated” inside the United States (the cable does not actually say these Saudis were terrorists). Neither the article, nor the cable itself, offer anything else that “highlighted Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda,” as Joscelyn wrote.

As the Wonk Room’s Matt Duss notes in the American Prospect today, “Unsurprisingly, these cables have bolstered neoconservative calls for a U.S. military strike on Iran. Leaving aside the irony that neoconservatives are citing as justification for another war the concerns of the same Arab authoritarians they wanted overthrown in 2003, it’s quite interesting to note when and on what subjects Arab leaders are to be believed.”

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