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Pasdaran and Sunni Extremists

Submitted by John C. Lamoreaux, Jun 25, 2011 07:54

The NYT article says that Iran and Sunni militants have "cooperated to a limited extent." This reflects a weak understanding of events in the 1980s and 1990s, and even at present. Revolutionary Iran had its own, indigenous Sunni militants. Not all Iran is Persian or Twelver Shiite. The Pasdaran also frequently cooperated with Sunnis, both before and after 9/11.

The evidence is pretty clear on Libya and the shared responsibility for getting the first cadres of militants to the Beqaa. So too, the links with Sudan throughout this period are extensive. I've not worked recently on Iranian connections with the various Sunni militants who merged to form al-Qaeda, but given what is known about Iranian assistance to militants in Chechnya and Kashmir, there's no prima facie reason to reject the claim.

The smuggling of weapons, fighters, and drugs, and the laundering of money, are all pursuits in which both Sunnis and Iran stood to benefit by cooperation.

The same pattern continues to the present day. Even after Zarqawi's bloodsport in Iraq, Iran has had absolutely no qualms about working with a motley assortment of non-Twelvers, especially when they're not just killing people for fun.

Hamas is said to be getting arms and training from Iran. They're Sunni of the ikhwan variety.

Iran also works closely with the Syrian regime, which is neither Sunni or Twelver, but Alawi.

Also, it shouldn't be forgotten that AQ is diverse on the question of Shiism. The Saudi/Wahhabi members tend to prefer killing them. The Egyptian/Ikhwani/Deobandi members have always been more ecumenical.

Sayf al-Adl and Zawahiri belong to the latter camp.

Sayf himself (with other AQ members) is said to have been under house arrest in Iran until fairly recently.

I'd have to check my notes for more details, but there's nothing unusual about Iran working with Sunnis on militant operations. Took place before 9/11 and continues to take place to this day. Whether Iran also participated in the planning or funding 9/11 is another question, but they're being Shiites and Sunnis does not entail that the claim is hard to believe.


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