Amid of flurry of Friday news dumps (with more expected this weekend), the US Treasury has issued an announcement of financial sanctions which makes it sound like it has struck the neocon mother lode: an alliance between al-Qaeda and Iran.
It's headlined "Treasury Targets Al Qaida Operatives in Iran" and it names 4 such operatives: Mustafa Hamid, Muhammad Rab'a al-Sayid al-Bahtiyti, Ali Saleh Husain, and Sa'ad bin Laden (yes, one of those bin Ladens). There's a brief bio for each person and then an extensive description of their alleged activities. But here's the thing. Each section ends the same way --
In mid-2003, Mustafa Hamid was arrested in Iran along with other al Qaida members and associates ... Bahtiyti reportedly was arrested by Iranian authorities in mid-2003 ... Husain was detained by the Government of Iran in early 2003 .. He was arrested by Iranian authorities in early 2003. As of September 2008, it was possible that Sa'ad bin Laden was no longer in Iranian custody.
So that's it. 4 operatives, all with histories in Pakistan or Afghanistan, who wound up in a country with long borders with Pakistan or Afghanistan, and then were detained by the Iranians. Only the bin Laden son (of which there are many) might be on the loose, and if so, might not even be in Iran. The entire exercise seems to have the sole purpose of getting "al Qaeda" and "Iran" into the same press release, and so provide fodder for the pundits to claim that there is a link. One minor point: the Treasury official in charge of this charade, Stuart Levey, will apparently be acting Treasury Secretary until Tim Geithner is confirmed. God forbid that mistakes on tax returns interfere with the marketing of the War on Terror.