Iran TerrorismIran no longer holding Al-Qaeda detainees: top official

Iran no longer holding Al-Qaeda detainees: top official

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AFP: Iran has extradited all foreign members of the Al-Qaeda network arrested inside its borders and is not holding any of the group’s leaders, the Islamic republic’s top national security official told AFP. TEHRAN, Dec 4 (AFP) – Iran has extradited all foreign members of the Al-Qaeda network arrested inside its borders and is not holding any of the group’s leaders, the Islamic republic’s top national security official told AFP.

The comments from Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, come after several years of speculation over which Al-Qaeda members Iran’s regime has in its jails.

The United States has also accused Tehran of harbouring members of the group.

“There are no Al-Qaeda leaders inside Iran. We do have a long border with Afghanistan, and when the Americans bombed the country, some people crossed this area, but we extradited them or sent them back,” Larijani said in an interview.

“There are rules. Those who were Iranians were tried in Iran. If they were foreign, we prevented them from entering Iran or we expelled them,” Larijani said.

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the subsequent toppling of the Taliban regime, Iranian officials announced the arrests of a number of fugitive Al-Qaeda members.

In 2003 and most recently in August 2004, Iranian officials said senior members of Osama bin Laden’s network were also being held — but cited national security as the reason for not divulging names.

Diplomats, intelligence sources and Arab press reports have pointed to the possible presence in Iran of the movement’s spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, and its number three, Saif al-Adel, as well as Bin Laden’s son and Al-Qaeda heir, Saad.

The three were born in Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia respectively. But reported extradition talks between Iran and each of those three countries were shrouded in secrecy.

Larijani gave no further details, going on to assert only that Iran believed in “peaceful coexistence with other religions, like Christians or Jews, and does not approve of crashing airplanes into buildings.”

Tehran condemned the 2001 attacks and was long opposed to the Taliban militia, Afghanistan’s former rulers, who gave shelter to Al-Qaeda before their ouster in a US-led war the same year.

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