HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

Iran's Green Cards for Sunni Terrorists

Osman Ali Mustapha is a former Kurdish police officer who turned to Iranian intelligence for gainful employment as a terrorist. The New York Sun's Eli Lake has interviewed him in Iraq, and what Mr. Mustapha shares regarding Iranian facilitation of Sunni terrorists within its own borders is especially noteworthy. Mustapha is currently in an Iraqi prison after being arrested for his first attack, where he chose the target, delivered explosives from Iran into Iraq and coordinated the suicide bombing attack. He readily admits to his actions, which are both personal in nature and compelling. The headline is apt: For Iraqi Terrorists Inside Iran, Membership Has Its Privileges.

The opening graphs of Eli's important report from Sulaimaniya, Iraq are below.

For Iraqi terrorists in Iran, membership has its privileges.

The leaders of many of the Sunni jihadist groups that are harbored there are issued a special political refugee card. With the laminated photo identification card, described this week in an interview by a former Kurdish spy for Iranian intelligence, the terrorists can sail through checkpoints and border checks.

If ever a jihadist were to encounter a problem with the local police, flashing the card would make his problems disappear, in part because the all-powerful intelligence ministry, known as Ettelaat, and Revolutionary Guard are the only people allowed to issue them. As such, these ministries have files with photographs and biographical information on most of the Iraqi terrorists in Iran.

The status of the Al Qaeda affiliated jihadists in Iran was recounted Tuesday in an interview with Osman Ali Mustapha, a former Kurdish police officer who was recruited as a spy for the Iranians. In his first interview with the press, and his second conversation with any American, the former spy for Iran said of the terrorists who operate across the Iranian border from Iraqi Kurdistan: "Each one of them filled out a form at Ettelaat. They bring them to Ettelaat. It is a green card for political refugees. When you want to go through a checkpoint, the green card will let you go." Later, he said these cards "are not issued to non-Islamists. Normal refugees do not get this."

Mr. Mustapha added, "If you have this card you are treated better than a Kurd. When the Kurds want to go somewhere, the authorities have a suspicion about relations with Kurdish parties. When you have this card, it means you are working for them."

Those who continue to question the level of cooperation possible between the Iranian Shi'a terror masters and Sunni terrorists who are deemed useful should take careful note of Mustapha's first hand accounting of this facilitation. Note with interest that Mustapha's conduit to Iranian intelligence was a senior member of Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist terrorist organization that was based in northern Iraq which carried out chemical weapons testing and production at their camps.

Mr. Mustapha is in a position to know Iran's relationship to Al Qaeda. He was recruited in 2004 to the Ettelaat by a senior leader of what was then Ansar al-Islam, the Sunni jihadist group that linked up with Al Qaeda's Iraqi chief, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The terrorist who served as a liaison to the Iranian intelligence officers went by the nom de guerre of Ali Mujahid, or Ali the holy warrior. Soon after Mr. Mustapha was fired from his job as a police officer at Halabja in the early spring 2004, Ali Mujahid gave him a number in Tehran and had him meet him in the town of Marywan.

In another piece of excellent work, Eli Lake's accounting of Mustapha's path from the Iraqi Kurdish police to Iranian intelligence and his travels back and forth across the border, as Mustapha tells it, should be read in full. The implications are just as clear as the dismissals are surely forthcoming.