Did Iran Just Call al-Qaeda An Israel Supporter?

al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for today's double bombing at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Iran blamed pro-Israel groups. Things just got weird.

Beirut bombing Iran al-Qaeda Zionist Israel

The site of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, where Iran claims supporters of Israel were responsible for bombing it...including al-Qaeda, who were the actual perpetrators.  (Image Source:  Reuters)

An al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility for today's double suicide bombing in at the Iranian embassy Beirut, Lebanon.  In response to the bombing, the Iranian government blamed Israel and its terror agents, claiming that anyone who attacks Iran does so because they support Israel.  As the rubble...wait a second.  Let's step back.  Iran  just claimed that al-Qaeda, well known for hating Israel, is "serving the interests of the Zionist enemy."  In other words, I think Iran just called al-Qaeda a lover of Israel.  How does that even make any bit of sense, other than as a schoolboy insult in the Middle East?

Before we get into the weirdness of that, allow us to explain some details.  The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al-Qaeda based terrorist operation operating in Jordan and other parts of the Middle East, claimed responsibility for the Beirut double-bombing, which consisted of a motorcyclist blowing himself up at the gates of the Iranian embassy, then a car filled with explosives blowing up about a minute or so later around the same spot, killing at least 23 at press time with more than 100 injured.  The al-Qaeda affiliate called the attack the "Battle of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut" (with accompanying Arabic hashtag), and praised the two "martyrs" who completed the operation, with promises of more attacks until Iran and its affiliate Hezbollah left Syria, who is in the midst of a civil war.

About an hour after the blast, the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, went on Lebanese television to claim that whoever bombed the embassy "knows directly or indirectly that he is serving the interests of the Zionist enemy," i.e. Israel.  The Iranian Foreign Ministry took things a step further in a follow-up press conference, saying the bombing was caused by "Israel and its terror agents."  This is despite the revelation that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack.

While one or two Salafist and jihadi groups are a bit more ambivalent towards Israel, al-Qaeda represents the rule of jihadi groups: They all hate Israel.  It is known that the United States' relationship with Israel is what inspired Osama bin Laden to establish al-Qaeda in the hopes of attacking America.  So it is rather ridiculous that Iran, who essentially wakes up every morning with the chant "Death to Israel," would accuse another Israel hater of being Zionist.

Granted, this accusation is likely more about the continued conflict between Sunni (al-Qaeda) and Shi'a Muslims than anything about Israel.  After all, Syria itself claimed that the attacks smelled "of petro-dollars," hinting at the Syrian rebels' local allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  But still, using Israel as a surrogate seems kind of weak.  Just admit they were Sunnis, that you hate Sunnis, and be done with it, Iran.

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