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Iran Showed Al Qaeda How to Bomb Embassies

9:45 AM, Dec 3, 2011 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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In a little noticed ruling on Monday, November 28, a Washington, D.C. district court found that both Iran and Sudan were culpable for al Qaeda’s 1998 embassy bombings. As is typical in state sponsorship of terrorism cases, neither Iran nor Sudan answered the plaintiffs’ accusations. But in a 45-page decision, Judge John D. Bates issued a default judgment. The court found that the “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran…has a long history of providing material aid and support to terrorist organizations including al Qaeda,” which “claimed responsibility for the August 7, 1998 embassy bombings.”


Judge Bates continued (citations omitted, emphasis added):

Iran had been the preeminent state sponsor of terrorism against United States interests for decades. Throughout the 1990s – at least – Iran regarded al Qaeda as a useful tool to destabilize U.S. interests. As discussed in detail below, the government of Iran aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama bin Laden, and al Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs. Hezbollah, a terrorist organization based principally in Lebanon, had utilized this type of bomb in the devastating 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Prior to their meetings with Iranian officials and agents, Bin Laden and al Qaeda did not possess the technical expertise required to carry out the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The Iranian defendants, through Hezbollah, provided explosives training to Bin Laden and al Qaeda and rendered direct assistance to al Qaeda operatives. Hence, for the reasons discussed below the Iranian defendants provided material aid and support to al Qaeda for the 1998 embassy bombings and are liable for damages suffered by the plaintiffs.

The court further explained (citations omitted, emphasis added):

Following the meetings that took place between representatives of Hezbollah and al Qaeda in Sudan in the early to mid-1990s, Hezbollah and Iran agreed to provide advanced training to a number of al Qaeda members, including shura council members, at Hezbollah training camps in South Lebanon. Saif al-Adel, the head of al Qaeda security, trained in Hezbollah camps. During this time period, several other senior al Qaeda operatives trained in Iran and in Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon. After one of the training sessions at a Lebanese Hezbollah camp, al Qaeda operatives connected to the Nairobi bombing, including a financier and a bomb-maker, returned to Sudan with videotapes and manuals “specifically about how to blow up large buildings.”

None of this should come as a surprise. In Iran’s Proxy War Against America (PDF), I summarized the evidence demonstrating Iran’s and Hezbollah’s complicity in the 1998 embassy bombings.

Federal prosecutors in the Clinton administration found Iran’s hand in the embassy bombings as they prepared to try some of the terrorists responsible. They even included the relationship with Iran and Hezbollah in their original indictments of al Qaeda.

In his plea hearing before a New York court in 2000, Ali Mohamed – the al Qaeda operative who was responsible for performing surveillance used for the bombings – testified that he set up the security for a meeting between bin Laden and Hezbollah’s terror master, Imad Mugniyah. “I arranged security for a meeting in the Sudan between Mugniyah, Hezbollah’s chief, and bin Laden,” Mohamed told the court. (My profile of Mugniyah and his ties to al Qaeda, published after his death in 2008, can be read here.)  

Mohamed also confirmed that Hezbollah and Iran provided explosives training to al Qaeda. “Hezbollah provided explosives training for al Qaeda and [Egyptian Islamic] Jihad,” Mohamed explained. “Iran supplied Egyptian Jihad with weapons.”

Mohamed was forthcoming about al Qaeda’s rationale for seeking Iran’s and Hezbollah’s assistance:

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