U.N. Report Reveals Iran is Harboring De-Facto al-Qaeda Leader

U.N. Report Reveals Iran is Harboring De-Facto al-Qaeda Leader


U.N. Report Reveals Iran is Harboring De-Facto al-Qaeda Leader

This week, a U.N. report indicated that a majority of member-states believe Iran is harboring the de-facto leader of al-Qaeda, Saif al-Adel. The U.S. State Department confirmed this week that it shares this assessment. The same report said al-Adel was giving orders to al-Qaeda affiliate Hurras al-Din, which still aspires to attack the West.  

U.S. Delegation to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) 

This week, a U.S. delegation traveled to the Middle East to convene working groups, including one on Iran, at the GCC’s headquarters in Saudi Arabia. In a statement released after the meeting, it said, “the United States and GCC member states raised their grave concerns about the Iranian military’s deepening two-way cooperation with state and non-state actors, including Iran’s ongoing provision of conventional weapons, advanced missiles, and UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) systems to the Houthis that have prolonged the conflict in Yemen, worsening the humanitarian disaster there.”

Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution 

As usual, the Islamic Republic hosted demonstrations of regime supporters in cities across Iran to mark the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution this week. This came as the Iranian people lit government billboards advertising the anniversary on fire and chanted from rooftops against Iran’s supreme leader. Regime officials marched in Tehran for the anniversary, including the commander-in-chief of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, Iran’s supreme leader’s sons Mojtaba, Mostafa, and Masoud Khamenei, former President Hassan Rouhani, and other figures. Tehran showcased the Sejjil ballistic missiles and Shahed-136 drones, which have been provided to Russia for use against Ukraine, around the square where President Ebrahim Raisi spoke. He complained, “the issue of the enemy is neither women, nor life, freedom, human rights, and nuclear [program] but rather they want to take away the independence, freedom, and peaceful life of the Iranian nation.” Days later, on Thursday, the Iranian people came out to protest against the regime in multiple cities.  


Iraqi Foreign Minister Visits Washington, DC 

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein visited Washington this past week, meeting with U.S. officials such as the U.S. special envoy for Iran. He told Al-Monitor, “it’s no secret that I am in touch with both Iranian and American officials. Both sides trust us, and that’s a good thing. It’s in Iraq’s interest that there be less tension between Washington and Tehran.” Such meetings took place as Iranian Americans rallied in Washington against the Islamic Republic on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.  

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

IDF: Israeli Jets Strike Underground Hamas Facility in Central Gaza

Israeli fighter jets targeted an underground weapons facility in the central Gaza Strip in the predawn hours of Monday in response to a rocket launch from the Palestinian enclave on Saturday evening, the military said. The Israel Defense Forces said the targeted facility produced raw materials for manufacturing rockets and was run by the Hamas terror group. Shortly after the military confirmed the attack, incoming rocket warning sirens blared in southern Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, including Sderot and Kibbutz Nir Am. The alert also sounded in Kibbutz Ruhama, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of Sderot. The military said Israeli tanks on the Gaza border fired on a number of Hamas military observation posts in retaliation. It provided a short video of one of these attacks.

The Israeli bombing came more than a day after the military said a single rocket from Gaza was downed by the Iron Dome air defense system, on Saturday evening. Despite the overnight tensions, the military gave the okay for schools in communities near the border to go ahead as normal, indicating further hostilities were not expected.

Iran Strikes Commercial Ship in Gulf Believing it is Israeli 

In an exclusive report, Saudi-owned outlet Elaph reported that it had learned from unnamed and unidentified “high ranking officials” in London that Iran had targeted a commercial ship last Friday with several Shahed-136 loitering munitions – commonly known as suicide drones – in the Gulf. The attack happened when three commercial ships traveled close to each other, the Campo Square, Al Gimi, and Pacific Sentinel.  

A follow-up report from Elaph clarified that the Campo Square, flying under a Liberian flag and jointly owned by an Emirati and foreign company whose country of origin was not specified in the report, was the intended target of the Iranian suicide drone attack. According to Elaph, the Iranians targeted the ship “because they believed it was Israeli, and therefore struck it in retaliation for the Israeli strike on Isfahan in Iran.”

Israeli Channel 13 and Walla! news clarified that the Campo Square, an oil tanker, was indeed co-owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, and that Israeli security officials had authorized the report. 

The attack did not result in any casualties, and the ship continued to sail under its own power to a nearby port where its damages were inspected.


Nasrallah Warns U.S. and Threatens Israel, Saying Its Demise is Imminent 

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned the United States against sowing “chaos” in Lebanon, suggesting it could lead to a war between his Iran-backed terror group and Israel. “The Americans must know that if they push Lebanon to chaos and the Lebanese people suffer, we won’t stand idly by and watch the chaos. We will rather extend our hand to make you feel pain, even if that leads to the choice of war with your beloved Israel,” Nasrallah says during a speech commemorating fallen Hezbollah leaders Ragheb Harb, Abbas al-Mousaoui, and Imad Mughniyeh. “If you push Lebanon to chaos, you will lose in Lebanon, and you should expect chaos in the entire region,” he added.  

He also suggested Hezbollah could take action against Israeli offshore gas production if there’s continued “procrastination” in the development of fields slated for Lebanon, following a U.S.-backed maritime demarcation agreement between Jerusalem and Beirut. 

Nasrallah also addressed the political tensions in Israel over the coalition’s efforts to impose far-reaching changes to the judicial system, saying the government was pushing toward conflict internally and with the Palestinians. 

Nasrallah celebrated the internal strife in Israel touched off by the government’s plans to radically overhaul the judicial system. Nasrallah quoted President Isaac Herzog, who warned on Sunday that Israel risked being torn apart if the government and opposition fail to engage in dialogue to reach a compromise.

The Hezbollah leader also highlighted former prime ministers who have come out against the coalition’s plans, including Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, Ehud Olmert, and Ehud Barak. Quoting Herzog’s primetime address, Nasrallah said, “we all worry about the fate of Israel. The lack of dialogue is tearing us apart from the inside.” 

Nasrallah pointed to the extreme rhetoric thought leaders in Israel have used to discuss the government’s plans. “In what terms do they speak? They talk about a civil war coming. They talk about the fact that there is no solution to the new challenges posed by the Netanyahu government except through bloodshed. A former air force commander threatened to kill Netanyahu,” Nasrallah said, referring to Zeev Raz, a celebrated former combat pilot and prominent anti-Netanyahu protester who in a recent Facebook post appeared to justify the potential assassination of Netanyahu. Raz later deleted the post and apologized.  

Nasrallah claimed that the government’s efforts led Israelis to leave the country “to go back to the countries they are from.” A handful of prominent businesses have pulled funds from Israel due to the legal proposals, but there has not been a movement of Israelis announcing that they are leaving the country. Nasrallah said that Netanyahu’s “senseless” government is pushing two “major conflicts” simultaneously — the first being the internal one centered on the judicial overhaul plans, and the second the conflict with the Palestinians, which he said, “will spread throughout the region.”  

Nasrallah said Israel poses the greatest threat to the region but that, “God willing, it will not reach its 80th birthday.” Israel will be marking its 75th anniversary in May. 


U.S. Shoots Down Iranian-made Spy Drone Over Patrol Base in Northeast Syria

U.S. forces in Syria shot down an Iranian-manufactured drone as it attempted to gather intelligence over a base in northeast Syria, the U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement Monday. CENTCOM said the drone was “attempting to conduct reconnaissance of Mission Support Site Conoco,” a patrol base where U.S. counterterrorism forces are stationed alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces to help prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State terror group and to counter Iranian influence in the region.