Strange Bedfellows

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS….In the years since 9/11, al-Qaeda as a centrally controlled organization has been largely crushed. Its core leadership has been reduced from several thousand to several hundred, its ability to mount large-scale attacks has been seriously degraded, and it has evolved into something closer to a franchise operation than a single coherent group.

According to a number of reports, one of its franchises is a group called Jundullah, an affiliate that emerged around 2004 in the Baluchistan region that straddles the border between Pakistan and Iran. Jundullah carries out terrorist attacks on the leadership of both countries, and ABC News reports today that for the past couple of years the United States has been advising and funding its Iranian branch:

U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or “finding” as well as congressional oversight.

Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to its youthful leader, Abd el Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.

….Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.

So in order to destabilize Iran we’re funneling money to a Sunni extremist terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda? I’m sure that will work out well. But perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised: after all, this is pretty much what Seymour Hersh reported a few weeks ago, with the further comforting news that the covert side of this plan to buddy up with Sunni extremists is being run out of the vice president’s office. Shocking, I know.

Needless to say, take this story with whatever size grain of salt you prefer, depending on how reliable you think ABC’s anonymous sources are. But it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind.