On December 22, 2011 a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that Iran was liable for the 9/11 attack because al-Qaeda operatives allegedly were allowed to surreptitiously transit Iran prior to the attack. Recent Treasury Department terrorism designations have also alleged at least limited collaboration between al-Qaeda operatives and elements of the Iranian state. These developments challenge the widely held view that al-Qaeda and Iran are implacable enemies because of al-Qaeda's condemnation of Shi'a Muslims and its vicious attacks on Iran's Shi'a allies in Iraq and elsewhere.
Critics of the Court's decision question the evidence in the 9/11 Commission report and have challenged the veracity of testimony presented during the court case, alleging that such connections are made to advance an argument favoring war with Iran.
At a moment of heightened American tension with Iran, this event endeavors to responsibly parse the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda and place it within the context of regional upheaval and al-Qaeda and Iran's strategic outlooks.
On Twitter? Follow @afpakchannel and search for this discussion using the hash tag: #alqaedaandiran.