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US fears 'Iran may have provided material aid to Al-Qaeda'

Washington, Fri, 03 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb 3 (ANI): American officials have expressed concern over Iran's connection with Al-Qaeda, saying say they believe that Tehran recently gave new freedoms to some of top Al-Qaeda operatives, and may have provided some material aid to the terrorist group.


Five men, who were under house arrest after being detained in Iran in 2003, make up Al Qaeda's so-called management council, a group that includes members of the inner circle that advised Osama bin Laden and an explosives expert widely considered a candidate for a top post in the organization.


According to The Wall Street Journal, a source revealed that American officials said there have been recent indications suggesting Iranian officials provided Al-Qaeda operatives in the country limited assistance, including logistical help, money and cars.


Moreover, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently told senators that US agencies believe the Iranian regime is now more willing to conduct an attack inside America.


According to the paper, even among US officials who believe Iran has given greater freedoms to Al Qaeda operatives, there is substantial debate within the Obama administration about whether that means there are significant ties between Iran and Al Qaeda.


Some officials believe that it is too early to draw conclusions about Iran's intentions and caution against judgments that Iran is posing an imminent threat.


"There is not significant information to suggest a working relationship between Iran and al Qaeda," the paper quoted a US official, as saying.


Another US official pointed out that 'Al Qaeda moving fighters or money is one thing, while planning major terrorist attacks against the West from Iranian soil is probably something Iran won't allow.'


Meanwhile, Hillary Mann Leverett, a former National Security Council aide in the Clinton and Bush administrations, strongly urged caution in drawing links between Iran and Al Qaeda, noting that Iran in the past repatriated more than 200 Al Qaeda operatives that had crossed into Iran, and even provided copies of their passports to the UN.


She also pointed out that added that if Iran is granting more freedom to Al Qaeda members, it may not represent an effort to partner with the terrorist group, but rather a decision that letting them go could stir up trouble for the US. (ANI)


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