Recently, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has repeatedly claimed that Iran and al Qaeda are working together to defeat the United States in Iraq. During a March 18 press conference, for example, McCain claimed that Iranian operatives were “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”
Al Qaeda begs to differ. Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman finds that in a new online Q&A session, Ayman al-Zawahiri — the terrorist organization’s number two leader — clearly states al Qaeda wants Iran to fail in Iraq:
The dispute between America and Iran is a real dispute based on the struggle over areas of influence, and the possibility of America striking Iran is a real possibility. As for what might happen in the region, I can only say that major changes will occur in the region, and the situation will be in the interest of the Mujahideen if the war saps both of them. If, however, one of them emerges victorious, its influence will intensify and fierce battles will begin between it and the Mujahideen, except that the Jihadi awakening currently under way and the degeneration state of affairs of the invaders in Afghanistan and Iraq will make it impossible for Iran or America to become the sole decision-maker in the region.
McCain’s campaign may try to dismiss Zawahiri’s statement as the crazy ranting of a terrorist leader. In the past, however, the senator has embraced statements by al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden to prove his own points. On March 24 (the day marking 4,000 U.S. troop deaths in Iraq), McCain said that he and Gen. David Petraeus agree with bin Laden on Iraq:
For the first time, I have seen Osama bin Laden and Gen. Petraeus in agreement, and that is, the central battleground in the battle against al-Qaeda is in Iraq today! That’s what bin Laden is saying, and that’s what Gen. Petraeus is saying, and that’s what I’m saying, my friends.
In a December interview, Zawahiri also said that Iran would receive no help from al Qaeda against a U.S. attack because Iran had “stabbed the Muslim Ummah in the back. It caused itself and the Shiites following it a historic disgrace. The signs of this stab will remain vivid in the Muslims’ memory for a very long time.”