Iran’s Nuclear Holiday Gift to al-Qaeda

As the rest of the world prepared for the Christmas celebrations this year, gathering gifts and goodies of all shapes and sizes to share with their friends and families, in the al-Bayda region of Yemen, al-Qaeda was preparing to receive an unintended radioactive gift from Iran: weapons-grade uranium for making a nuclear weapon. 

A History of Violence

Since the outbreak of the Yemen Civil War in 2014 (itself a result of the failed foreign policy of former President Barack Obama), the two largest Muslim powers in the Middle East—the Sunni-dominated Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite-controlled Islamic Republic of Iran—have jockeyed for influence and control in the divided nation of Yemen. 

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has labeled the Yemen Civil War the worst human rights catastrophe in the world, as of October 2022. As both Iran and Saudi Arabia fight for control over the nation, the two rival Muslim powers have enlisted the help of local militants to serve as their proxies. The Shiite Islamic Houthi Rebels are aligned with Iran while Saudi Arabia has had to rely on a hodgepodge of Sunni extremist groups, including al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, to serve their interests on the ground in Yemen. 

Since the outbreak of the civil war, given Yemen’s geostrategic location along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and just south of Saudi Arabia, Iran has desired to use the broken nation as a place from which it can threaten its rival, Saudi Arabia, for regional dominance. The Houthis have proven to be a valuable ally to the Iranians—so much so that the Iranian regime has spent millions of dollars and many years training the rebel fighters, giving them critical intelligence on their Sunni rivals, and even supplying them with a sophisticated, increasingly dangerous weapons to use not only in Yemen but more troublingly against Saudi Arabia. 

In 2018, for example, advanced Iranian drones were piloted by the Houthi Rebels and struck against the Abqaiq oil refinery in an attempt by the Iranians and their Houthi allies to drive up the price of oil on the international market and to slow the flow of critical oil supplies from Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world. Thankfully, the plot did not work. But the threat should not be ignored. Eventually, the Iranian-backed group will hit its mark. 

This is all the more likely if reports from the week of December 12 about Iran’s attempt to hand over weapons-grade uranium to the Houthis are true.

A Dangerous Turn

As part of yet another Iranian weapons transfer to the Houthis, Israeli sources discovered that a shipment of weapons-grade uranium was being shipped from Iran to the rebels in Yemen. Fortunately for the Saudis and the rest of the region, the shipment was intercepted before it could make it to the hands of the Houthis. Sadly, however, the shipment was stopped by none other than al-Qaeda. The whereabouts of the weapons-grade uranium remain unknown at this time. 

So, a threat that was once isolated to Saudi Arabia and the Greater Middle East has now metamorphosed into a direct threat to the American homeland.

Even at the beginning of al-Qaeda’s existence, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies were keenly aware of the transnational Islamist terrorist group’s desire to gain nuclear weapons capability. Shortly after 9/11, the former leaders in the George W. Bush Administration routinely worried that another 9/11—this one involving a nuclear weapon of some kind—was in the offing. The fear of a nuclear 9/11 was one of the primary reasons why former President George W. Bush blundered, dragging us into Baghdad in 2003, believing that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons he was intent on sharing with al-Qaeda. 

Failure to Imagine

After decades of failing to acquire these ghastly weapons, when the Democratic Party and Joe Biden would have us all believe that al-Qaeda’s days are numbered, and the Americans can finally abandon the Middle East, this most unwelcome news comes to us. The fact that this has occurred over the seemingly interminable Yemen Civil War, a conflict whose earliest beginnings can be traced back to the Obama-Biden Administration’s failure to prevent the Houthi overthrow of Yemen’s embattled President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, is especially galling.

Much like 9/11, this entire ordeal was completely avoidable. We’ve ignored the threat of Islamic terrorism to our detriment. We’ve ceded far too much ground in the Middle East to those who seek to destroy us. 

What’s more, the Democratic Party’s obsession with making nice with Iran has helped to facilitate this slow-rolling disaster. Iran believes it can act with impunity—even going so far as sending weapons-grade uranium to its proxies fighting U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia in Yemen—because, under Biden, the Iranian leadership believes no harm will come to them or their reign of insanity. And al Qaeda, a force that every U.S. president since George W. Bush has weakened, is again revitalized (and seeking to harm Americans on levels that not even Osama Bin Laden could achieve) because of the Biden Administration’s failures from Afghanistan to Iraq—and everywhere between.

With that weapons-grade, Iranian-made uranium, al Qaeda could fashion a dirty bomb. They could send the weapon from abroad into the waiting hands of their sleeper agents hidden throughout the United States via America’s wide-open southern border. Al-Qaeda could then achieve their dream of killing masses of Americans in one fell swoop, possibly wiping out a major American city while they are at it, all while the Biden Administration sleepily ignores the threat in favor of directing an ever-increasing amount of limited state resources into hunting Russian ghosts at Mar-a-Lago and prosecuting “right-wing terrorists.” 

America is vulnerable. An al-Qaeda dirty bomb attack may be coming sooner than we realize.

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About Brandon J. Weichert

A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.href="https://twitter.com/WeTheBrandon">@WeTheBrandon.

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