9/11: The Iran Factor INTERESTING ARTICLE. I wonder if anyone would care to comment on any of the following points brought up in this Newsweek article. 1.Commission reveals troubling new evidence that Tehran was closer to Al Qaeda than Iraq was. 2.According to a December 2001 memo buried in the files of the National Security Agency, obtained by the commission, Iranian officials instructed their border inspectors not to place Iranian or Afghan stamps in the passports of Saudi terrorists traveling from Osama bin Laden's training camps through Iran. Such "clean" passports undoubtedly helped the 9/11 terrorists pass into the United States without raising alarms among U.S. Customs and visa officials, sources familiar with the report told NEWSWEEK. 3.The NSA memo adds to a large accumulation of intelligence indicating that Iran has had more suspicious ties to Al Qaeda than Iraq did. Among those who once had a base in Iran: Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, allegedly the No. 1 terrorist in Iraq today. Meanwhile the commission found there was no "collaborative, operational" relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda. 4.According to separate intelligence reports, Qaeda suspects also continue to hide across the border from Afghanistan. "We just don't have good intelligence about what is going on in Iran," said one senior U.S. intelligence official. That's especially true since the Iraqi National Congress allegedly told Iranian officials after the Iraq invasion that U.S. intelligence was listening to their conversations. U.S. officials say that resulted in a devastating loss of monitoring capability. 5.Grimly, what the new 9-11 report makes clear is that nearly three years into the war on terror, America is still not close to understanding the enemy. And Washington seems less able to force Tehran to change its ways, especially since Bush has removed one of the chief threats to the mullah regime, Saddam Hussein, and is now bogged down in Iraq. As one intel official said before the Iraq war: "The Iranians are tickled by our focus on Iraq." 6.Despite recent portrayals of bin Laden as a man hunted and on the run, U.S. counter-terrorism officials now say the threat today from Al Qaeda may be just as serious as in the summer of 2001. The warnings are based on unusually high-quality intelligence emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border near Waziristan, where top Qaeda leaders are said to be hiding. "This is absolutely real," said one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. "We feel very confident that they are trying hard to attack us inside the United States before the election and that some of the operatives are already here." But just as with the 9/11 attacks, officials are at a loss to say what the actual plot is, who the plotters are, how they got hereand who helped them get here.