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Iranians deny Al-Qaeda given safe passage into northern Iraq
By Ilnur Cevik
Iranian diplomatic sources categorically denied Iraqi Kurdish claims that al Qaeda operatives had been allowed to slip into northern Iraq from Afghanistan via their territory in the past few months, thus helping to fan the rising wave of violence in and around the Baghdad area.
Iraqi Kurdish sources were quoted in a Turkish Daily News report on August 16 that more than a thousand al Qaeda operatives and other Arab extremists had been allowed to pass through Iran from Afghanistan and join the pro-Saddam militants who are currently waging a war against the coalition forces led by the U.S. The Iraqi Kurds said they had caught some of them while most managed to slip into Iraq.
The Iranians categorically denied this, saying they were not at all on good terms with al Qaeda or the Taliban in Afghanistan. They also pointed out that several al Qaeda operatives and some high-ranking officials were in custody in Iran. "It is no secret that the al Qaeda people are Vahabis and they are strongly against us Shiites so it would be irrational to think we would be cooperating with them," a ranking Iranian diplomatic source told the Turkish Daily News.
Al Qaeda operatives and Arab extremists are being blamed for the gradual rise of attacks against coalition forces led by the U.S. Observers say the attacks have become more organized and have the marks of Middle East-based experienced terrorists. They say the attack on the United Nations representation in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing more than 20 people including U.N. Special Representative in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello, may well be the work of these experienced terrorists. There are claims that these terrorists have joined forces with the pro-Saddam groups to wreak havoc in Iraq.
Terrorism experts have said while the Iranian argument that Tehran would not allow al Qaeda people to use their territory to slip into Iraq would be valid still Arab extremists could slip into the rugged areas bordering Iraq and use the mountain passes formerly used by Turkey's PKK separatist Kurdish terrorists to move in and out of Iran at will.
On August 16, the Turkish Daily News also published Iraqi Kurdish claims that the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group was resurrected and its fighters had slipped into the region from Iran to assassinate Iraqi Kurdish leaders and disrupt reconstruction efforts in the north.
The bases of Ansar al-Islam, a small shadowy fundamentalist group, were destroyed during the war when American troops backed with fighters of Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) attacked them in the mountains bordering Iran. Most of the Ansar fighters were killed but some managed to escape into Iran.
An analysis in the New York Times on Wednesday quoting American intelligence sources confirmed the resurrection of Ansar and said some 150 fighters had managed to slip into northern Iraq. However, the NY Times story said the Ansar fighters aimed to attack allied military forces or the administrative offices of those involved in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Until now the Americans have pointed the finger directly at Syria for helping the Arab extremists slip into Iraq to attack the coalition forces. Iran has not been directly mentioned but the U.S. has charged Tehran of interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq. The Iranians have denied this.
In a related development, diplomatic sources in Ankara told the Turkish Daily News that al Qaeda fighters linked to the Chechens had started leaving Chechenya and were infiltrating into Iraq through Syria in a steady flow since June.
Iraq's U.S. administrator Paul Bremer said in remarks published on August 19 that foreign militants were entering the country from Syria and that he hoped Damascus would cooperate more in stopping the flow. Bremer said in an interview with the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, should not interfere in the country's internal affairs.
"The truth is that there are still problems and there are still foreign terrorists entering Iraq across the borders from Syria," Bremer said. "We have discussed this with the Syrians and we hope to see better cooperation."
"We believe that a free Iraq must not be subject to any interference from its neighbors in its internal affairs," Bremer said, adding that official Iranian bodies were working against the United States and its allies in Iraq. He did not identify them.
© Iranian.ws http://www.iranian.ws/news/publish/article_315.shtml
posted on 08/23/2003 2:15:24 AM PDT
by F14 Pilot
(What Goes Around, Comes Around...!)
To: F14 Pilot
Iran's Khatami Loses Key Reformist Ally, Reports Say
Sat August 23, 2003 10:04 AM ET
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, accepted the resignation Saturday of a key cabinet ally who quit in protest at mass arrests during pro-democracy demonstrations in June, media reported.
The loss of Higher Education Minister Mostafa Moin is a fresh blow to Khatami, whose efforts to create more open rule in the Islamic republic have been frustrated by religious hard-liners who control key levers of power such as the judiciary.
"Your resignation is accepted with deep regret and we hope your knowledge, experience, and competence may be of service in another field," state radio said, quoting a letter by Khatami.
Moin, who reformists said was a strong supporter of Khatami's reform agenda, asked to step down in July after the student-led pro-democracy protests. Judiciary officials said 4,000 people were arrested across the country in the unrest.
"From the outset I was opposed to such massive arrests," Moin was quoted as saying in the Hamshahri newspaper last week.
"My resignation should be viewed as an objection to the atmosphere in which the country is governed," he added.
Moin's bills to restructure his ministry had also been vetoed by the hard-line watchdog body, the Guardian Council. Moin complained that he did not have the authority in his post to push through change, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Moin had also asked to resign in 1999 after a clampdown on student protests in July of that year. But his request then was turned down by Khatami.
Jafar Meili-Monfared, another deputy in the Education Ministry has replaced Moin as acting minister. http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=3325749
posted on 08/23/2003 8:26:38 AM PDT
by F14 Pilot
(What Goes Around, Comes Around...!)
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