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Canada train plot: What is the link between al Qaeda and Iran?

© Haaretz

Text by HAARETZ

Latest update : 2013-04-24

Canadian security officials alleged that the suspects in the plot to derail a commuter train received 'guidance' from an al Qaeda element in Iran, but Iran and al Qaeda have been at war with each other for years.

Read premium content from Israel's Haaretz on www.france24.com.

The allegation by Canadian security officials that the two suspects arrested Monday for plotting to derail a Toronto train received “direction and guidance” from an element of Al-Qaida based in Iran – and Iran’s categorical denial in response – raises once again the question of the connection between Al-Qaida and Iran.

Iran, of course, is the usual suspect in many terror attacks, for its involvement in the Sinai Peninsula, its suspected cooperation with Shi’ites in Yemen and its proven contribution to the fighting in Syria on the side of the Assad regime.

But the connection between Iran and Al-Qaida is controversial at best, and to date has yet to be proven. Iran and Al-Qaida have been at war with each other for years, despite the asylum Iran has granted relatives of Osama bin Laden, who are kept under close watch by Revolutionary Guard troops. On the ideological and religious plain, the radical Sunni streams of Islam, among them Al-Qaida and the Salafist groups, see the Shi’ite Muslims - the dominant group in Iran - as a bunch of heretics who must be battled and kept far from any position of influence.

This has not stopped Sunni groups like Hamas and Sunni nations like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates from maintaining close ties with Shi’ite Iran. But Iran has lots of practical, political, and military reasons for not cooperating with Al-Qaida. For example, Iran sees the Jabhat al-Nusra organization, which is fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and which recently announced it had joined Al-Qaida, as an enemy to be combated at all costs, because it threatens not just Assad’s regime but Iran’s interests in Syria in the post-Assad era.

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© Read premium content from leading Israeli daily Haaretz on FRANCE 24

Date created : 2013-04-24

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