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Bin Laden Might Be in Iran! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Iranian nuclear file is beginning to escalate further. The clearest indicator of that was the pessimistic statement made by the Russian president on Friday. In reference to the optimism of the Brazilian president who is seeking to reach a settlement with Tehran, the Russian president said that “as my friend the Brazilian president is an optimist, I shall also be an optimist. I give it a 30 percent [chance of success].” However this is not the main story; rather, there have been recent reports indicating that some leadership figures of the Al Qaeda organisation have gone back to moving freely to and from Iran, [heading] towards Saudi Arabia or tribal areas in northwest Pakistan.

We all remember the accusatory comments made by the Iranian president in New York two weeks ago when he said that the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, was in fact in Washington “because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush…They were colleagues, in fact, in the old days…They were in the oil business together. They worked together. Mr. Bin Laden never cooperated with Iran but he cooperated with Mr. Bush.” “Rest assured that he’s in Washington. I think there’s a high chance he’s there,” he added.

Who knows whether or not Bin Laden is actually in Iran? What’s certain – and this was previously revealed by Asharq Al-Awsat – is that some of Bin Laden’s children are in Iran and the story that is most fresh in people’s memories is that of Iman Bin Laden who left Tehran for Syria after great effort [was exerted]. Today, reports indicate that some Al Qaeda leaders have gone back to moving freely to and from Iran.

The reports indicate that Iran has begun to review its [political] calculations in anticipation of an outbreak of military confrontation with the US or Israel, or even in the case that sanctions are imposed upon it. The danger lies in the fact that this view is supported by many Arab and Western sources to whom I have spoken over the past few months; they all believe that the Iranian military threats are for media consumption whilst the real danger lies in the possibility of Iran using terrorist operations and sleeper cells here and there. This might explain some of the news reports that come out every now and then in our region about the existence of cells, or Iranian spy networks; however many Arab countries, Gulf states in particular, seek to downplay the news in order to avoid escalation with Iran.

What confirms the danger and seriousness of the situation is what an informed Iranian source told the newspaper on Thursday. The source stated that Iran actually used Al Qaeda in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as the informed source said that Tehran’s use of Al Qaeda elements “comes within the framework of Iran playing all the cards it can that could lead to harming America in the region and making it leave.” The source added, “The Iranians used Al Qaeda skillfully in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of the current situation, it is likely that Iran will change its movements towards Al Qaeda in order to further benefit from it, perhaps in other regions.”

This matter is certainly understandable if we remember that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However the burning question is to what extent are we prepared for all that?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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