Tuesday, June 07, 2005

5000 Al-Qaeda Operatives Expelled In Last 3 Years: Iran - World - smh.com.au

Al-Qaeda operatives expelled: Iran - World - smh.com.au: "Al-Qaeda operatives expelled: Iran
June 8, 2005

Kuwait City: Iran claims it has arrested nearly 5000 al-Qaeda representatives in the past three years and handed them back to their countries.

The head of Iran's powerful National Security Council, Hasan Rowhani, denied recent allegations that leading terrorism suspects from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network had been given refuge.

"I don't think any country could claim superiority over us [in combating al-Qaeda]," he told reporters while visiting Kuwait.

He said Iran had given the names of the detainees to the United Nations. A number of al-Qaeda operatives remained in Iranian jails for crimes they committed against national security in Iran and would eventually be tried in the country, he said.

US and foreign intelligence agencies have said mounting evidence gathered over several years has convinced them leading terrorist suspects have been living in Iran.

The evidence includes communications by a fugitive mastermind of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and the capture of a Saudi militant who appeared in a video in which bin Laden confirmed he ordered the September 11 attacks, according to US and foreign officials.

Mr Rowhani said Iran had been praised for its efforts by international bodies.

Iran first said in mid-2003 it had detained and deported hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects. However, US officials said Iran refused to identify the al-Qaeda operatives still in its custody.

Early this month Iran denied that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's leader of the Iraqi insurgency, was in Iran.

Associated Press"