Reuters has published an article about the United States blacklisting three members of al Qaeda living in Iran on Wednesday. Apparently they had “helped the Islamist militant group on the battlefield, with finance and logistics, and in mediating with Iranian authorities”.
The article states that Iran has held several al Qaeda high-ranking members and lower-level militants since the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks.
A 31-year-old Saudi national, Faisal Jassim Mohammed al-Amri al-Khalidi, led an al Qaeda brigade and was “serving as the group’s military commission chief in May 2015”. The Treasury said he is “part of a new generation” of al Qaeda operatives.
Since 2011 Khalidi has been liaising with al Qaeda associates, central council members and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban.
Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi, a 48-year-old Egyptian national has been mediating with Iranian authorities since early 2015 and has assisted al Qaeda members living in Iran according to the Treasury.
Thirty-five-year-old Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn, an Algerian previously based in Pakistan, was in control of al Qaeda’s finance and organization inside Iran since 2015.
Retuers say that according to documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan which were made public, Al Qaeda and Iran’s government “have a complex and sometimes tense relationship”. Iranian authorities are said to have promised the release of several al Qaeda figures, many who were actually let free. However, Saad, one of bin Laden’s sons who was held in Iran is thought to have been killed in 2009.
“Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim rulers deny cooperating with al Qaeda, a Sunni group. Iranian officials call al Qaeda a terrorist group, and Iranian security forces periodically report the arrest of al Qaeda members.”
The US Military Academy at West Point carried out an analysis and published a report in 2012 concluding that “while it was obvious the al Qaeda-Iran relationship was antagonistic, the rationale behind Iran’s detention of al Qaeda militants for years ‘without due process’ was unclear”.
It is uncertain what conditions the men were living in under Iran. Bayumi has been there since 2014 according to the Treasury, but it is unclear how long the other two have been there for. The Treasury said that “Bayumi had been able to secure funds from Syria for al Qaeda members and facilitate al Qaeda funds transfers in 2015” and suggested that he had some “freedom to operate” since moving to Iran.
The measures taken on Wednesday mean that any property the three men have in the US will be frozen, and US citizens will not be allowed to deal with them.