In an attempt to put an end to speculations triggered by an Iranian judiciary official's statement last week about al Qaeda members being tried in Iran, a foreign ministry spokesperson announced Sunday that only a number of "al Qaeda sympathizers" were sentenced. Senior members of al Qaeda network are believed to be in Iran, including Seif Al Adl, Suleiman Abu Ghaith and Osama bin Laden's son Saad.
Iran however has been issuing contradictory statements and refusing to reveal the identity of the al Qaeda members. Political divisions and power struggles in Iran appear to compound the problem. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is believed to have at one point provided safe houses for members of the terrorist network, while the government seemed to be against it. An Iranian interior ministry official told a Saudi paper recently that Iran was willing to hand over all of the al Qaeda members to their countries of origin.
Recent reports claimed a senior member of the Egyptian al Gamaa al Islamiya was extradited to Egypt, suggesting relations between the two countries may be improving which could have paved the way for the extradition of more high-value suspects like al Qaeda's Seif al Adl. Relations however quickly deteriorated after Egypt accused an Iranian diplomat of spying and plotting for attacks in the country. Moreover, Egypt said the Iranian diplomat was also involved in planning for terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, including an attack on a petrochemical site in the Saudi oil city of Yanbu in May. Iran strongly denied the charges.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi announced on Sunday that the judiciary only tried a few number of Iranian sympathizers of al Qaeda. (Tehran Times)
A Hostile Land Foils the Quest for bin Laden
The hunt for Osama bin Laden is stalled, frustrated by remote topography and sidetracked by the war in Iraq. (NY Times)
The U.S. is tapping the phone of Mohamed ElBaradei, hoping to gather information that would help Washington remove him as head of the UN nuclear watchdog, and hasten an all-out effort to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. (The Independent)
Homeland Security Department Experiments With New Tool to Track Financial Crime
The Department of Homeland Security has begun experimenting with a wide-ranging computer database that allows investigators to match financial transactions against a list of some 250,000 people and firms with suspected ties to terrorist financing, drug trafficking, money laundering and other financial crimes. (NY Times)
Bush Search For New Terror Chief
The White House was yesterday scrambling to find a new candidate for the high-profile post of homeland security chief after its original choice was forced to stand down for hiring a nanny who was an illegal immigrant. (The Guardian)
Pakistan Arrests Militant Leader
Pakistan has arrested the head of a militant Islamic group wanted in connection with the kidnapping of three U.N. workers in Afghanistan. (South Asia News)
US-led forces and Afghan soldiers arrested two senior Taliban commanders and six militants during an operation in south central Afghanistan, officials said yesterday. (AFP)
U.S. Accused Over Afghan Prisons