A lawsuit has been filed accusing Iran and Hezbollah of “direct support for, and sponsorship of, the most deadly act of terrorism in American history.” Drawing on the knowledge of two Iranian intelligence defectors, three 9⁄11 Commission staffers and various experts, eight law firms are placing blame for the September 11 attacks on the Iranian regime. If successful, the lawsuit will put to rest the notion that a nuclear Iran can be lived with.
The first indications of possible Iranian involvement in the September 11 attacks were in the 9⁄11 Commission Report released in 2004. The report revealed that 8 to 10 of the hijackers had gone to Iran between October 2000 and February 2001. The border guards were apparently ordered not to stamp their passports. In October 2000, a senior Hezbollah official went to Saudi Arabia to prepare for the arrival of guests in Iran. The lawsuit says this was Imad Mughniyah, a top agent of Iran and operations chief of Hezbollah. That same month, two future hijackers (Mohand al-Shehri and Hamza al-Ghamdi) flew from Iran to Kuwait.
The next month, another future hijacker (Ahmed al-Ghamdi) flew to Beirut on the same flight as Mughniyah. Salem al-Hazmi also flew to Beirut from Saudi Arabia separately. In the middle of the month, three more hijackers (Ahmed al-Nami, Waleed al-Shehri and Wail al-Shehri) flew together from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then went to Iran on the same flight as an associate of Mughniyah. According to the 9⁄11 Commission, top Hezbollah officials in Beirut and Iran were expecting important visitors at this time. The report said it “cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence.”
Two other hijackers (Satam al-Suqami and Majed Moqed) flew to Iran from Bahrain this same month. The report also disclosed that Khalid al-Mindhar, yet another hijacker, flew from Syria to Iran in February 2001. Iran expert Kenneth Timmerman revealed in his book, Countdown to Crisis, that Ramzi Binalshibh, a central figure to the 9⁄11 plot, repeatedly stopped in Iran on his way to Afghanistan to brief the Al-Qaeda leadership on the plot’s progress. After Binalshibh was told by Mohammed Atta the date of the operation, he took this same route at about the same time as Ayman al-Zawahiri visited Iran. “It is hard to believe that the presence in Iran of a top 9⁄11 planner and bin Laden’s right-hand man just two months before the September 11 attack was a coincidence,” Timmerman wrote.
“Mughniyah’s participation in the hijackers’ preparations for the 9⁄11 attacks leaves no doubt that Iran was directly involved in, and had foreknowledge of, a planned terrorist attack on the U.S.,” said Thomas E. Mellon of Mellon Webster & Shelly, the lead attorney in the case.
However, the 9⁄11 Commission downplayed the possibility that the attacks were tied to Iran. It said it “found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9⁄11 attack” but the matter “requires further investigation.” Timmerman writes that the Commission was only made aware of the evidence a week before publication and a large body of evidence was not considered.
A former Iranian intelligence officer named Abdolghassem Mesbahi, who helped expose Iranian complicity in a 1994 bombing in Argentina, defected in 1996 with direct knowledge of a plan drawn up by the regime to have proxies collide hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and other targets. It had been originally created to avenge the shooting down of an Iranian Airbus in 1988. He learned that the regime bought a flight simulator for Boeing 757s, 767s and 777s about 18 months before 9⁄11 for a military base in Tehran, even though Iran possesses no such aircraft. A source of his in Tehran called him shortly before 9⁄11 to tell him, “Satan on fire,” to indicate that the plan was given the go-ahead.
A second defector named Hamid Reza Zakeri also testifies to Iranian involvement. He says he was a security coordinator for a secret intelligence agency under the control of Supreme Leader Khamenei. Part of his duties was to ensure the security of high-level meetings, including a four-day visit from Ayman al-Zawahiri and 29 other members of Al-Qaeda in January 2001. Top Iranian officials and Imad Mughniyah took part, he claims. Another Revolutionary Guards defector also told Timmerman of this meeting.
On May 4, another meeting was held that included Saad Bin Laden and Khamenei. Zakeri says he was Saad’s driver. Zakeri substantiated his story by showing a top-secret document with the seal of the Supreme Leader’s Intelligence Organization written on May 14. The document referred to the “future plan of al-Qaeda” and discussed an attack on the U.S. It said that “we should be very careful, and very clever, in order not to leave any evidence behind that can impact negatively on us in the future.” It concluded with, “The Leader suggested that we limit our relations with al-Qaeda to only two people, as before (Imad Mugniyeh and Ayman Zawahiri) and not go beyond them and deal only with them.”
Zakeri also has a June 3 memo from his boss that says, “If there is going to be an attack on the American government, we have to ensure we can defend against U.S. retaliation.” The document said the attack was set for September 1. Zakeri says that around this time he visited the “target wall” in the Ministry of Intelligence and Security headquarters where photos of dissidents were posted before they were killed. He saw a nearly five foot high display of the World Trade Center, a model of the White House, a seven foot model of the Pentagon and photos of Camp David and CIA headquarters. A missile aimed at the Pentagon was hanging above with “Death to America” written on it in Arabic.
On July 26, Zakeri walked into the U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan to warn the U.S. of an attack on September 11. According to the story in Timmerman’s book, Zakeri was brushed off by the CIA. Timmerman says Zakeri provided immense details that always checked out and “No matter whether I began at the beginning or asked him to clarify an obscure detail he had mentioned, his story never varied in the many times he told it.” He also saw his diplomatic passport and the original files Zakeri brought with him when he defected.
If Iran was involved in the September 11 attacks, then our worst fears about the intentions of the Iranian regime are true.