LONDON Ñ Iran has enabled the son of Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden
to escape the country, according to a published report here.
Iranian intelligence sources said the regime of Ali Khamenei has allowed
Saad Bin Laden to escape Iran early this week. The sources said Bin Laden
was accompanied by five senior operatives, including one termed "Abu Musafa
The sources said Iran has expelled most or all of the members of the Al
Qaida leadership. They said Al Qaida's No. 2 Ayman Zawahiri and senior
operative Abu Mussib Al Zaraqawi have already left the country.
On Wednesday, the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat quoted Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence sources as saying that Khamenei
approved a proposal to expel the Al Qaida leadership in a drive to improve
Teheran's international image, Middle East Newsline reported.
Iran was believed holding up to 18 senior Al Qaida operatives in eastern
and northern Iran, the sources said. They were said to have included
operations chief Seif Al Adel, spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith and a senior
operative identified as Abu Bakr.
The sources said the proposal was championed by
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami as part of an effort to conceal Teheran's links to
the leadership of the Islamic insurgency movement. Khatami who warned that any Iranian link to the
Al Qaida leadership would be catastrophic and the country has already been
accused by much of the international community of violating the Nuclear
A reformist bloc led by Khatami's brother and deputy parliamentary
speaker, Mohammed Rada Khatami, has presented a resolution that would ban
any Iranian government involvement with organizations deemed as terrorists.
bill cites Al Qaida and does not define terrorism.
The sources said the Iranian president was alarmed by Saudi denials that
Teheran had cooperated with an extradition request for Al Qaida leaders.
Khatami, the sources said, felt that the support of Riyad was crucial for
its foreign policy.
But Khamenei and the IRGC have concluded that the 10 Al Qaida senior
operatives still in Iran must not be extradited abroad to where the United
States could obain access to them. This includes their extradition to Saudi
said to have increased cooperation with Washington in the war against
Islamic insurgency groups.
For their part, Saudi sources have dismissed the prospect that Teheran
would extradite Al Qaida leaders to the kingdom. They said Teheran fears
that the Al Qaida detainees would disclose the Iranian connection to the
Islamic movement, exacerbate the feud within the Iranian
leadership and expose the country to a backlash by Al Qaida.