Iran: Haven or prison for al Qaeda?
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith
March 8th, 2013
05:30 PM ET

Iran: Haven or prison for al Qaeda?

By Pam Benson

The arrest of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who had been living in Iran for the past decade, has once again raised questions about whether the Iranian government is providing a haven or barrier to the terror group.

Al Qaeda and its members held under "house arrest" in Iran over the past decade have had a complicated relationship with the Tehran regime, one which allowed the detainees to often times continue supporting the terror group's operations in the region.

Current and former U.S. officials say al Qaeda in Iran managed to be fairly active in facilitating the movement of money and people into Pakistan where the core leadership has safe haven in tribal areas.

"They helped move people in and out of FATA through Iran for operational reasons," one former senior counter-terrorism official told CNN.


Iraq releases prisoner accused of killing U.S. soldiers
November 16th, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Iraq releases prisoner accused of killing U.S. soldiers

By Jennifer Rizzo

Ali Mussa Daqduq, a Lebanese militant accused of involvement in the murder of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq, was released by Iraqi authorities Friday morning, Daqduq's lawyer, Abdulalmehdi al-Mutairi, told CNN.

Daqduq has arrived in Lebanon, his lawyer said.

"Thank God, he arrived in Lebanon a few hours ago after he left Iraq this afternoon" al-Mutairi told CNN. "There is no legal reason for his detention. He should have been released months ago".

An Iraqi court cleared Daqduq in May, saying there wasn't enough evidence against him, an official with Iraq's judicial council told CNN.

The automatic appeal following that ruling affirmed the acquittal in June, according to al-Mutairi.

U.S. officials say Daqduq organized a kidnapping in the Iraqi city of Karbala in January 2007 that left five U.S. soldiers dead.

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Filed under: Hezbollah • Iraq • Lebanon
October 24th, 2012
08:21 PM ET

US intel believes some Benghazi attackers tied to al Qaeda in Iraq

By Suzanne Kelly, Pam Benson and Elise Labott

U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN.

That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Previously, intelligence officials said there were signs of connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African wing of the terror group.

The revelation that members of al Qaeda in Iraq are suspected of involvement in the Libya attack comes at a time when there is a growing number of fighters from that group also taking part in the Syrian civil war.


Zawahiri messages underline al Qaeda's focus on Syria
September 13th, 2012
03:27 PM ET

Zawahiri messages underline al Qaeda's focus on Syria

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

(CNN) - The latest in a flurry of messages from al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri shows his growing interest in exploiting violence in Syria. In a 35-minute audio address posted on jihadist forums on Wednesday, Zawahiri claimed the United States was actually supporting the Assad regime to prevent an Islamist state from taking its place.

"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem, and thus America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another, for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," Zawahiri said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Monitoring Service.

It is not the first time Zawahiri has cast a covetous eye over events in Syria.

In February, he used most of an address to try to graft al Qaeda onto the growing insurgency.


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Filed under: al Nusra • Al Qaeda • Al-Shabaab • Al-Zawahiri • AQAP • Assad • Iraq • Israel • Libya • Syria • Terrorism
The medical legacy of a decade at war
September 11th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

The medical legacy of a decade at war

By Jennifer Rizzo

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States waged the "war on terror," a continued combat campaign that has lasted more than a decade. Thousands of Americans have been killed and almost 50,000 troops have been wounded in the wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most lethal uses of force by insurgents have been improvised explosive devices. Blast injuries from these bombs including the loss of limbs, traumatic brain injury, and severe burns are prolific among wounded troops.

But service members are surviving these extreme injuries that would have proved fatal decades earlier. A warrior wounded in battle now has a 50% better chance of surviving than in any previous war, according to the Defense Department, which credits some of this advancement with improved body armor, better doctor and medic training, and an efficient and timely evacuation system. According to the Air Force the military for example is able to get a wounded service member back to the United States in three days or less if needed, compared to the 10 days it took during the Gulf War and the 45 days it took during the Vietnam War.

Just like in preceding wars, medical research has churned out advancements to better heal the wounded and prevent more from dying on the battlefield.

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Filed under: 10 years of war • 9/11 • Afghanistan • Iraq • Military • Security Brief
Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths
August 31st, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths

By Terry Frieden

The Justice Department on Thursday closed its criminal investigation of the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody, ending a controversial investigation that Attorney General Eric Holder had approved more than a year ago.

The investigation, conducted by veteran Justice prosecutor John Durham, examined alleged CIA interrogation abuses in connection with prisoner deaths at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and at a secret prison in Afghanistan in 2002.

If the probe had led to criminal charges against CIA officers or contractors, it could have ignited a firestorm of objections by Republican lawmakers and the national security community.

Holder acknowledged that he made a controversial decision to appointed Durham in 2009 to examine allegations of CIA interrogation abuses in about 100 cases. His aides say he was aware the Obama White House wanted the torture controversies put behind it, but Holder pressed on. Republican lawmakers and the CIA were upset about the new review of alleged detainee mistreatment. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • CIA • Iraq • Justice Department • Legal • Petraeus
August 30th, 2012
05:04 AM ET

Rice: Syria opposition must be armed

Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State, talks to CNN's Hala Gorani about many things, starting with Iraq.

Filed under: Iran • Iraq • Israel • Secretary of State • Syria
August 21st, 2012
10:03 AM ET

Is Iraq helping Iran evade sanctions?

Iran's economy is supposed to be in a stranglehold from international sanctions, but U.S. officials say Tehran still has access to the international banking system – thanks to Iraq. The U.S. government is looking to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to help stop any sanctions busting. Jill Dougherty reports.

Filed under: Iran • Iraq • Sanctions • Security Clearance on TV
New Iran sanctions also hit banks in China, Iraq
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
July 31st, 2012
06:37 PM ET

New Iran sanctions also hit banks in China, Iraq

By Jamie Crawford

President Barack Obama announced new U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's oil Tuesday as well as banks in China and Iraq, warning that Tehran faces "growing consequences" for refusing to answer international questions about its nuclear program.

Obama said China's Bank of Kunlun and the Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq "facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars" for Iranian banks already under sanctions.

"By cutting off these financial institutions from the United States, today's action makes it clear that we will expose any financial institution, no matter where they are located, that allows the increasingly desperate Iranian regime to retain access to the international financial system," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said the purpose of additional sanctions was to "affect Iran's calculus" to get Tehran to negotiate seriously over its disputed nuclear program.

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Filed under: China • Iran • Iraq • Sanctions • Treasury
Report finds "waste" in Iraqi police training
An Iraq Police officer searches a car at a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq.
July 30th, 2012
05:49 PM ET

Report finds "waste" in Iraqi police training

By Jamie Crawford

A U.S. government watchdog says more than $200 million was wasted on a program to train the Iraqi police force, with security concerns and a lack of interest by the Iraqi government the main culprits for the program's shortcomings.

In an audit released Monday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, or SIGIR, auditors also said the Police Development Program faced challenges at the outset due to the lack of an assessment of Iraqi police force capabilities, and of a written commitment from the Iraqi government for the program to move forward.

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who as inspector general leads the SIGIR office, signed the report that was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

The purpose of the program is to help Iraqi police services develop the capabilities needed to lead, manage and sustain internal security and the rule of law. The State Department is hoping to reach those goals by 2016.

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Filed under: Iraq • State Department
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