Is Iran the biggest sponsor of world terrorism?
Paul Cruickshank is a Fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University's School of Law. He previously worked as an investigative journalist in London, reporting on al Qaeda and its European affiliates and was part of the CNN reporting team that covered the London July 7, 2005 attacks. He collaborated closely with Peter Bergen in interviewing acquaintances of Osama bin Laden for Bergen's 2006 oral history "The Osama bin Laden I Know" and worked with CNN on a two-hour Emmy-nominated documentary "In the footsteps of bin Laden." Cruickshank has written about al Qaeda and Islamist groups for a number of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. He has provided on-air analysis to CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS, BBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera on national security issues. Cruickshank graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in history, and has a Masters degree with Honors in International Relations from the Paul. H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He has also worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.
Paul Cruickshank: So Iran is . . . has a very clear relationship with Hezbollah, which is a group with both a political and a military arm based in Lebanon. It hasn’t launched a terrorist attack in many years on civilians. That might be disputed, but it . . . but it has not launched a sort of terrorist attack on civilians outside Lebanon, inside Lebanon for several years. It has launched obviously missiles into Israel which have killed civilians. But it hasn’t sort of organized car bombings. It hasn’t launched suicide attacks. So it’s not engaged in what is classically understood as terrorist activity in the last years. Obviously historically it has been responsible for terrible acts of terrorism in the 1980s and other non . . . You know hundreds of Marines were killed. It’s been responsible for attacks in Argentina. But in the last years it’s not been responsible for the types of attacks that Al Qaeda have been responsible for around the world. Iran has also been accused of harboring certain Al Qaeda figures within the country that fled Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. Certainly I think there are a number of figures – such as __________, a military commander within Al Qaeda – who are in Iran. But the understanding that we have is that they’re under house arrest. They’re not free just to operate at will in that country. So I think that Iran has had historically relationship with terrorists. There are Al Qaeda figures in that country which have not been handed over to the United States. So I think that with Iran when the President makes these allegations, you know that is the context of what is going on here. But I . . . You know I . . . Let’s put all that in parenthesis because you know I . . . Do you know what? Because I . . . I . . . Let’s talk about whether to include that or not, the Iran side.
Question: Does any country sponsor al-Qaeda?
Cruickshank: Well I can say something to that. I mean . . . Well I mean . . . I mean Nobody is sponsoring Al Qaeda. No. No country is sponsoring Al Qaeda. And when President Bush makes these remarks, he’s not referring to Al Qaeda. And if he is, he’s mistaken because no country is sponsoring Al Qaeda. They’re not receiving any state response, you know. I mean I can go on and on, but one of the key justifications to go into Iraq was obviously the relationship between . . . So maybe we can do a little …there. But in a recent message, bin Laden has said look, you know, “I haven’t received state support from anybody, which makes me free to do what I like. Hezbollah is restrained by these different powers and I can do what I like. We can launch the operations we want to.” So maybe there’s a little thing we can do on that.
Paul Cruickshank: So the President of the United States has recently said that Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism. I don’t think he’s referring to Al Qaeda. There certainly Iran has had a relationship with Hezbollah, with certain Shiia militia forces within Iraq. Al Qaeda figures are also present in Iran right now, but it is thought they are under house arrest. So under some sort of restriction. And they’re certainly not cooperating with the Iranian regime. There might be some elements of the Iranian regime which has had some dealings with Al Qaeda in the country. It’s very, very cloudy what’s going on there. But Iran has not been responsible for sponsoring Al Qaeda around the world. One of the justifications of going into Iraq was the idea that there was some sort of relationship between Saddam Hussein and certain Al Qaeda linked fighters such as … in Iraq; and an alliance of convenience between a … secularist figure and a religious group. Those have really not been borne out in recent years. And the idea that Iran, a Shiia power, would ally itself with Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni, fundamentalist, anti-Shiia organization, I think is a pipe dream. It’s very unlikely to happen. Al Qaeda fighters in their statements, and on forums, and . . . Sorry. Radical figures on . . . Sorry. Let me think about this a little bit. I’m just . . . That’s the first bit.
Paul Cruickshank: The second . . . I mean there’s been quite a lot of talk in the . . . on these jihadist forums about, “Does it make sense for us to ally ourselves with Iran?” There’s been quite a lot of talk on those jihadist forums about whether Al Qaeda should ally itself with Iran against the United States. I think most of the people who are posting these messages have concluded that that sort of alliance wouldn’t make sense. They’re not prepared to come up with some sort of alliance of convenience with Iran. They view Iran, because of its support for Shiia militia groups in Iraq which are seen as killing Sunnis, in very hostile ways . . . terms right now. So Shiia powers . . . These jihadists who are part of Al Qaeda right now are a very fundamentalist, very intolerant ideology which sees Shiias as heretics. So for Al Qaeda any sort of alliance of convenience with Iran is not gonna happen in the years to come. It’s not gonna make sense to them. And for Iran, I don’t think it’s gonna make any sense whatsoever either. So when the President talks about Iran supporting terrorist groups around the world, we have to understand that he’s not referring to Al Qaeda as one of those groups.
Recorded on: Jan 14 2008
Although Iran has ties to Hezbollah and Syria has ties to Hamaas, al-Qaeda’s unique mobility and effectiveness comes from their lack of affiliation.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>
A study finds 1.8 billion trees and shrubs in the Sahara desert.
- AI analysis of satellite images sees trees and shrubs where human eyes can't.
- At the western edge of the Sahara is more significant vegetation than previously suspected.
- Machine learning trained to recognize trees completed the detailed study in hours.
Why this matters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkyODg5NX0.O3S2DRTyAxh-JZqxGKj9KkC6ndZAloEh4hKhpcyeFDQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="3770d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c27b79d4c0600fb6ebb82e650cabec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Area in which trees were located
Credit: University of Copenhagen<p>As important as trees are in fighting climate change, scientists need to know what trees there are, and where, and the study's finding represents a significant addition to the global tree inventory.</p><p>The vegetation Brandt and his colleagues have identified is in the Western Sahara, a region of about 1.3 million square kilometers that includes the desert, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel" target="_blank">the Sahel</a>, and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/subhumid-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sub-humid zones</a> of West Africa.</p><p>These trees and shrubs have been left out of previous tabulations of carbon-processing worldwide forests. Says Brandt, "Trees outside of forested areas are usually not included in climate models, and we know very little about their carbon stocks. They are basically a white spot on maps and an unknown component in the global carbon cycle."</p><p>In addition to being valuable climate-change information, the research can help facilitate strategic development of the region in which the vegetation grows due to a greater understanding of local ecosystems.</p>
Trained for trees<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk5NTI3NH0.fR-n1I2DHBIRPLvXv4g0PVM8ciZwSLWorBUUw2wc-Vk/img.jpg?width=980" id="e02c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79955b13661dca8b6e19007935129af1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Martin Brandt/University of Copenhagen<p>There's been an assumption that there's hardly enough vegetation outside of forested areas to be worth counting in areas such as this one. As a result the study represents the first time a significant number of trees — likely in the hundreds of millions when shrubs are subtracted from the overall figure — have been catalogued in the drylands region.</p><p>Members of the university's Department of Computer Science trained a machine-learning module to recognize trees by feeding it thousands of pictures of them. This training left the AI be capable of spotting trees in the tiny details of satellite images supplied by NASA. The task took the AI just hours — it would take a human years to perform an equivalent analysis.</p><p>"This technology has enormous potential when it comes to documenting changes on a global scale and ultimately, in contributing towards global climate goals," says co-author Christian Igel. "It is a motivation for us to develop this type of beneficial artificial intelligence."</p><p>"Indeed," says Brandt says, "I think it marks the beginning of a new scientific era."</p>
Looking ahead and beyond<p>The researchers hope to further refine their AI to provide a more detailed accounting of the trees it identifies in satellite photos.</p><p>The study's senior author, Rasmus Fensholt, says, "we are also interested in using satellites to determine tree species, as tree types are significant in relation to their value to local populations who use wood resources as part of their livelihoods. Trees and their fruit are consumed by both livestock and humans, and when preserved in the fields, trees have a positive effect on crop yields because they improve the balance of water and nutrients."</p><p>Ahead is an expansion of the team's tree hunt to a larger area of Africa, with the long-term goal being the creation of a more comprehensive and accurate global database of trees that grow beyond the boundaries of forests.</p>
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.