Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

What is Iran Up To?
As my colleague Jeffrey Imm points out on the Counterterrorism Blog, there are reports of Iran's attempt to gain influence in the traditional al Qaeda structure. This an interesting development, especially when coupled with another, equally ominous and interesting development: Iran's likely involvement with the Islamic Court Union in Somalia.

This is a stark departure across Sunni-Shi'ite differences, and one that, if true, could portend a serious realignment within the different Islamist camps. Such a cross-pollination is also significant given the recent and ongoing Sunni-Shi'ite massacres, based solely on religion, taking place in Iraq.

A soon-to-be published United Nations panel of experts outlined Iran's contacts in Somalia, including the taking of several hundred Somali fighters to Lebanon to fight with Hezbollah.

In my opinion, one of the few things the UN does consistently well is their Panel of Experts reports. They put people on the ground, gain access and consistently produce reports that are widely ignored by the General Secretariat. Here is what they found:

The report said about 720 Somali Islamist fighters with combat experience -- selected by Afghanistan-trained hardline Islamist commander Adan Hashi Farah "Ayro" -- went to Lebanon to fight Israel along Hezbollah in mid-July.

The fighters were paid $2,000 and as much as $30,000, to be given to their families, if they were killed, the report says.

At least 100 Somali fighters returned, along with five Hezbollah members, while an unknown number stayed in Lebanon for advanced military training, it states.

"In exchange for the contribution of the Somali military force, Hezbollah arranged for additional support to be given ... by the governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic, which was subsequently provided," it says.

This is significant in its scope. It is also extremely interesting, because in both the cases the alliances cross the traditional Shi'ite-Sunni divide in ways that are unusual, if not unique. While bin Laden has had documented contacts with Hezbollah (particularly Imad Mugniyah, the mastermind behind Hezbollah's truck bombing operations) there has been little indication of further alliances.

As Jeffrey Imm points out, al Qaeda has a history in Iran. Bin Laden's son is there, one of his wives at least transited through there during the exodus from Afghanistan, and several other senior leaders appear to be held in some form of moderate house arrest, unable to travel freely but certainly not in prison.

It will be interesting to see if this is a truely significant realignment or tactical moves that bring short term benefit to both sides but does not fundamentally change the current working relationship.

New Study Brings Light to Islamist Thinking
Britain's Growing Islamist Problem
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC