We now come to the most sensational act of terrorism ever perpetrated; the defining event of the twenty-first century: the attacks upon America that took place on September 11, 2001. It is well-known that this devastating assault was planned and executed by Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist army. Nevertheless, hiding in the noise of those four exploding airplanes are, once again, Iran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and its star agent, Imad Fayez Mugniyeh. In the next few postings, I will lay out for you the real story of 9/11. This is not to say that the conventional story — meticulously documented in the government's 9/11 Commission Report — is untrue. Nor do these postings constitute a conspiracy theory; such ramblings tend to focus on coincidences alleged to be cause and effect, facts poorly documented in the official story, and a paranoic fear of the power of the federal government. Instead, my narrative will improve the conventional account by supplying much new evidence that has surfaced during the past five years. It is important for you to listen to this story because it shows that Iran will never give up its secret war against America until millions of us are dead.
Who Attacked Us?
On September 11, 2001, the United States of America was attacked by a consortium of forces that included:
1. An independent, trans-national terrorist army called al-Qaeda and led by one Osama bin Laden.
2. Members of an Islamic missionary society known as the Tabligh (the Tabliq, Tablighi Jamaat,) headquartered in India and currently having between 70 and 80 million adherents worldwide.
3. An ad-hoc group of young Muslim suicide pilots and their Muslim supporters and other conspirators, now known as the Hamburg Cell, so-called because it was headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.
4. A hastily-gathered band of 15 young Saudi men whose sole purpose was to overpower and, if necessary, kill the cabin and cockpit crew members of each hijacked plane.
5. A network of American Muslims, and diplomats, clerics, and businessmen from several Muslim nations (notably Saudi Arabia) who were living in America at the time.
6. A money-laundering operation centered in Dubayy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE.) While not directly associated with the government of the UAE, this network sprang up under the de-facto protection of that government's lax regulation of commerce, particularly commerce conducted with Iran.
7. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) of the government of Pakistan.
8. The Taliban government of Afghanistan.
9. Key renegade members of the Saudi royal family.
10. Key agencies of the government of Iran, including Section 110 of the Office of the Supreme Leader, Section 43 of the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS,) and the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC.)
11. All five of Iran's top political leaders at the time: Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader and Iran’s Head of State; Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Head of the Expediency Discernment Council; Mohammad Yazdi, Head of the Council of Guardians; Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Chief of the Judiciary; and Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, Chairman of the Assembly of Experts. These men were briefed on the plan by Saad bin Laden, Osama's eldest son. They unanimously approved it. Khamenei personally dictated a letter instructing MOIS to support the attacks, and designated Mugniyeh as Iran's sole interface with al-Qaeda.
Explaining this complex reality will test my ability as a storyteller. That's why I will need several postings. One thing is clear: although al-Qaeda was the major culprit, it did not act alone. Furthermore, while al-Qaeda's contribution was an act of international crime, Iran's was an act of war.
What has Changed Since 9/11?
In September 2001, President George W. Bush launched a counteroffensive that he named the war on terror. He was supported by Congress, the American people, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO,) and many courageous and good-hearted Muslims worldwide. This coalition rapidly brought about several important changes that make the task of understanding 9/11 much easier:
• Al-Qaeda is no longer an independent terrorist army; it is now a branch of the Iranian government. Osama bin Laden and approximately 150 of al-Qaeda's top commanders are now employees of the government, and they and their families are naturalized citizens of Iran. They are currently living in Iran, most probably in the northern suburbs of Tehran. Osama bin Laden is mortally ill and requires medical attention that he could not receive outside of a large metropolis. He meets on a monthly basis with Iran's head of state, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In the meantime, bin Laden is grooming his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to take his place. In order to blend into Iranian society, both bin Laden and Zawahiri have taken to dressing as Shiite clerics.
• Mohammad Haydar Zammar, the Tabligh who recruited the core of the Hamburg Cell for jihad, and thus brought them to the attention of al-Qaeda, was captured in Morocco and jailed and interrogated in Syria. His whereabouts are currently unknown, but he is presumed to be in Coalition hands, possibly in Germany. Other Tabligh recruiters have been linked to several al-Qaeda operatives, including the men in Britain who recently attempted to blow up as many as 10 jetliners bound for the United States. At least one detainee at Guantanamo Bay is known to have been recruited to al-Qaeda by the Tabligh. Between 1990 and 1993 — formative years for al-Qaeda —Javed Nasir was a high-ranking officer in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate: a chief sponsor of al-Qaeda and bin Laden. Nasir is a Tabligh.
• The 19 hijackers are dead. As a result of a large international effort, their biographies and affiliations are now well-known. Zacarias Moussaoui, who was to be one of the pilots, has been convicted and is currently serving a life sentence in the United States. Surviving members of the Hamburg Cell, plus approximately ten other conspirators who never made it into the United States, have been identified; some, arrested.
• It is now widely understood that, although the United Arab Emirates is officially a United States ally, in reality its government is intimidated by and heavily influenced by Iran. For example, in 1992 Iran seized Abu Musa Island from the UAR without any significant protest.
• Pakistan has stopped supporting Muslim terrorism; has captured 689 al-Qaeda members, recruiters, and foot soldiers; and has turned over 369 of them to the United States.
• The Taliban has been replaced by a democratic government led by President Hamid Karzai. However, the Taliban has become an Iranian proxy army, and, with Iranian support, is staging a comeback insurgency in Afghanistan.
• Three men of the Saudi royal family who probably aided al-Qaeda in attacking America are now dead, presumably executed by agents of the Saudi government.
Therefore, the complex equation that led to 9/11 has been reduced to one factor: Iran. In 2001, there really was a war on terror, but it was over within three months; President Bush won it when Coalition forces toppled the Taliban and decimated and scattered al-Qaeda. That's the good news. The bad news is that Iran, by attacking us on 9/11, has stepped up its clandestine war against America, and the death toll now stands in the thousands, not hundreds.
Iran's Contribution to 9/11 Constitutes an Act of War
The overarching mastermind and operational commander of 9/11 was Osama bin Laden. Beginning with his declaration of war against America in 1998, and throughout the planning of 9/11, bin Laden demonstrated a keen understanding of the vulnerabilities of the West. He also showed great creativity, a remarkable ability to remain clear-headed in adapting to changing circumstances, and a tenacious focus on his goal that overcame all set-backs. There can be no doubt that, for the most part, 9/11 was his creation, and that it was primarily al-Qaeda that attacked us.
However, only in bin Laden's narcissistic mind is his struggle with America a war. War is an activity conducted between sovereign nations. To think of bin Laden's campaign against us as a war, or of our response as a war on terror, blinds us to the fact that, during 9/11, the leaders of only one sovereign nation committed their country to attacking America. That nation was Iran. Therefore, their actions, and the actions of all Iranian officials and officers who followed their lead, constitute a deliberate act of war.
To most Americans, the idea that 9/11 was an act of war on the part of Iran sounds preposterous. It seems to fly in the face of all that has been written since about al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and “the war on terror.” The federal government of the United States and the American press are now fully committed to the idea that the attacks were planned and executed by al-Qaeda, and that we are now “at war” with a Hydra-headed supra-national terrorist army whose members are mostly Arab.
It's not that this picture is completely false: As the conventional story says, the plot originated with Ramzi Yousef (Abdul Basit Abdul Karim,) one of the leaders in the 1993 bombing of the underground parking garage of Tower One of the World Trade Center. Yousef became convinced that a hijacked commercial jet flown into one of the Towers would topple it. He traveled to Afghanistan, and presented his ideas to al-Qaeda. (It may have been Yousef’s uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who made the presentation, probably sometime in 1996.) Bin Laden (Osama Muhammad Al-Wahad bin Laden, Usama bin Laden) approved the plan. Actual preparations began later that year. Bin Laden gave the final go-ahead in 1999. Later, the plot was expanded to include both towers of the World Trade Center. It is true that al-Qaeda is composed mostly of Arabs, and that it has a presence in as many as 60 countries. And it is true that members or sub-contractors of al-Qaeda were involved at many points during the planning and execution of the attacks.
The trouble with this vision is that it is a one-dimensional, high-level view of reality. It makes a compelling story that is easily digested. It has one cause, one effect, and, conveniently, one villain: bin Laden. It has a beginning, middle, and end. But what is missing from this picture are other historical forces, other political realities, and other players: all three are hiding in plain sight; but we cannot see them because they do not fit the template of our expectations. That template is the conventional story of the attacks as supplied by the federal government and the American news media. But the template is flawed, incomplete, and inadequate. Hiding beneath this tangled web is America's true enemy: Iran.
A Template for Understanding the New Middle East
We need a new template to understand this complex reality. In order to retell the story of 9/11, we will build such a model. It consists of the following four facts:
• In the Middle East, important matters are usually conducted through intermediaries. Long before politicians, businessmen, lawyers, and criminals in the modern West understood the concept of plausible deniability, it had already been raised to a fine art in the Middle East.
• In this part of the world, it is customary never to speak the whole truth. Just about everyone in the region would fail a simple polygraph test. (A lie-detector. This is one of the reasons why the CIA was unable to successfully recruit many agents in the Middle East: new CIA recruits have to pass a polygraph test.)
• Political groups in the Muslim-Arab world are constantly making and breaking alliances, engaging in friendly or hostile takeovers, and performing corporate mergers and acquisitions. Organizational names change rapidly.
• The politics of Islamic terror is now best understood by assigning the participants to one of three layers:
1. Terrorist groups occupy the top and most visible layer.
2. They are supported and financed by sponsor states —
such as Saudi Arabia and Iran — in the middle layer.
3. Sponsor states are covertly supported by world powers
— like Russia and China — at the bottom layer.
These three layers are the model’s most important feature. So before we narrow our focus to Iran, let us first get an overview of how Muslim terrorism works.