As of 2003, Al-Qaeda had become a branch of the Iranian government. It immediately began to function as an Iranian proxy army, much like Hezbollah. With contacts in 60 countries, al-Qaeda was now poised to strike at Iran's bidding at American targets from many directions. The attempts were not long in coming.
However, 9/11 had dramatically changed the international environment in which Iran and al-Qaeda operated. Police and intelligence agencies worldwide were now actively hunting for terrorists, and conscientious Muslims in Western countries and in the Middle East were now vigilant and cooperating with the authorities.
The Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant
On August 14, 2003, 19 Pakistanis were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The terrorists were planning to fly a hijacked commercial jet into the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. The plan was to break open the reactor's containment dome in order to cause an explosion and release of radioactive debris similar to that of Ukraine's Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986. It is likely that the Pakistanis were al-Qaeda operatives, and therefore under the command of the Iranian government.
The Twelfth Imam Operation
On August 25, 2003, a credible expatriate Iranian living in Paris warned Congress that Iran was planning to use al-Qaeda to perpetrate a massive, apocalyptic attack upon the continental United States. Called “The Twelfth Imam Operation,” it was originally scheduled for November 25, 2003. The re-election of George W. Bush briefly halted the planning; however it had now been revived. Manhattan was the likely target. Manhattan had been shown to be vulnerable on two occasions: the 1993 attack on the underground parking garage of Tower One of the World Trade Center, and the attack of September 11, 2001, which destroyed both Towers. Furthermore, Manhattan was emblematic to Iran: to them, it is the seat of a presumed world-wide Jewish conspiracy against Muslims.
The Twelfth Imam Operation did not materialize; at least not in 2003. Nor did any large terrorist plot against America emerge in the next two years. However, as we will see in a moment, it is possible that the Twelfth Imam Operation was actually launched in Great Britain in 2006.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center
In June, 2004, two Iranian diplomats were caught making clandestine video tapes of Manhattan’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. Two months earlier, Dr. Hassan Abassi, a theoretician for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that Iran had spies at 29 sites within the United States. These sites were carefully chosen so that as many Americans as possible would be killed when the targets were struck by Iranian missiles.
The London Hijacking Plot
During the week of August 6, 2006, Pakistani authorities arrested two British citizens and five Pakistanis. They were suspected of being involved in a plot to hijack planes in Britain. The Pakistanis alerted the British government. On Thursday, August 10, British authorities followed up by arresting 24 suspects. The conspirators were plotting to blow up as many as ten passenger jets bound for the United States from Britain. They planned to assemble explosives on board from separate gels and liquids concealed in their carry-on luggage. On Friday, August 11, Italian authorities followed up by arresting 40 more people in connection with the plot.
At least one of the British conspirators was recruited by a member of the Tabligh. There were strong indications that the plot had been hatched by al-Qaeda: two suspects were connected to Pakistani al-Qaeda operatives. If the plot was al-Qaeda's doing, then it was also Iran's. This opens the possibility that the London conspiracy was actually the long-anticipated Twelfth Imam Operation.
By now, it should be clear that Iran will not rest until it has successfully killed a large number of Americans. In order to maximize the impact of the next attack, Iran intends to exceed the death toll of 9/11. In this posting we have seen how Iran attempted to kill thousands of American civilians during the past four years. However, from the beginning, the Iranians have shown a marked preference for attacking American soldiers. We now return to this theme by analyzing the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.