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Iran to Give Saudis al-Qaida Members (AP) By ALI AKBAR DAREINI TEHRAN, Iran 06/24/03 12:16 PM)Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26030-2003Jun24.html AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran will turn over to Saudi Arabia a number of Saudi members of the al-Qaida terror network who are in Iranian prisons, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday.

The announcement was the first confirmation by Iran that some of the al-Qaida members it is holding are Saudis. The handover has been sought for weeks by Saudi Arabia, which launched a crackdown on al- Qaida after the May 12 suicide bombings in the kingdomīs capital, Riyadh. U.S. officials have said al-Qaida members in Iran had a role in that attack.

Iran has denied U.S. accusations that itīs harboring al-Qaida, saying for weeks that it had members of the terror network in its prison but was still trying to identify them. It announced Monday that some had been identified, but did not release their names or say how many were in custody.

"Some of the identified al-Qaida members are Saudi nationals. We will hand them to our Saudi friends," Sabah Zanganeh, an adviser to Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Zanganeh said no date has been set for the extradition, adding that the matter was discussed when the Saudi foreign minister visited Tehran last week.

Iran has said the al-Qaida figures it has in custody could not have been involved in the Riyadh attacks, which killed 34 people, because they were detained beforehand.

Zanganeh said the identity of the detainees was likely to be announced in the coming days.

Earlier this year, Iran said it had extradited more than 500 al-Qaida members to their countries of origin - including Arab, European and African countries. Many al-Qaida operatives are believed to have fled to Iran after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan in late 2001. (Copyright 2002 Associated Press. 06/24/03)

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