Iran to Give Saudis al-Qaida Members (AP) By ALI AKBAR DAREINI TEHRAN, Iran 06/24/03 12:16 PM)
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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
"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
Zanganeh said no date has been set for the extradition,
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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