Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) has claimed that the US is engaged in a “whitewash” about the truth of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Zarif’s Twitter blast was spurred by the CIA’s release of 470,000 documents belonging to Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qa’eda leader killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011. Some of the material, including a 19-page Al Qa’eda report, detailed the presence of members in Iran after 9/11. Bin Laden said in one passage, “Anyone who wants to strike America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with their frank and clear rhetoric.”

Iranian officials say that, while some Al Qa’eda members were in the country after 9/11, they were kept under close surveillance. US officials have countered that some of the men were able to move outside Iran and pursue operations, including in the Syrian conflict.

The “senior Al Qa’eda member” who purportedly wrote the 19-page report describes a pre-9/11 agreement in which Iran offered Al Qa’eda fighters “money and arms and everything they need, and…training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in return for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf”.

Zarif responded on Friday:

Fifteen on the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabian citizens.

A Pre-9/11 Report — But Afterwards?

The summary of the 19-page report is in a briefing given to media outlets by the Long War Journal, which is backed by the anti-Iran activist organization Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The CIA gave the Long War Journal early access to the 47,000 documents.

The 19-page report was available online Wednesday, but the CIA removed all files on Thursday, saying they were “temporarily unavailable pending resolution of a technical issue”.

The 9/11 Commission said in its July 2004 report that Iranian officials met with Al Qa’eda leaders in Sudan in 1991 or early 1992. Al Qa’eda militants later received training in Lebanon from Hezbollah, according to the commission.

US prosecutors have also said Al Qa’eda was supported by Iran and Hezbollah in truck bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. The Commission said eight of the 9/11 hijackers were among the Al Qa’eda members allowed to pass through Iran, although there was no evidence of Tehran’s involvement in the planning of the attack.

The Long War Journal said in its summary that Abu Hafs al-Mauritani helped negotiate a safe haven for Al Qa’eda men inside Iran before 9/11; however, according to the report’s author, the men violated the terms of the agreement and Iran eventually cracked down on the network and detained some personnel. Despite this, the author explains that Al Qa’eda is not at war with Iran and some of their “interests intersect”, especially when it comes to being an “enemy of America”.

But other files describe a tense relationship. Osama bin Laden wrote the Supreme Leader to demand the release of family members held in Iranian custody, and Al Qa’eda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat to exchange for the men and women. Bin Laden considered plans to counter Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East.

There is no indication in the Long War Journal briefing of any reports pertaining to the Iran-Al Qa’eda relationship after 9/11.

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