NEWSWEEK: Roughly 300 Qaeda-Linked Kurdish Militants Are Holed Up in Iranian Border Towns; Training New Recruits for Raids Into Iraq
NEW YORK, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. and Kurdish security officials tell Newsweek that roughly 300 militants of a Qaeda-linked Kurdish group, Ansar Al-Islam, are holed up in small Iranian towns along the border with Iraq. The group seems to be recruiting new members in Baramawa, a Kurdish refugee camp inside Iran, reports Special Correspondent Babak Dehghanpisheh in the October 13 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, October 6).
For 18 months Ansar had waged a fratricidal jihad against its secular Kurdish neighbors instead of helping them fight Saddam Hussein. After the U.S. assault on its enclave last March, the group seemed to vanish, and though Tehran insists that none of Ansar's 900 or so fighters were allowed into Iran, many of the group's survivors tell Newsweek they did indeed flee there and are now sneaking back across the border to continue their battle against the West.
L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, estimated that "several hundred" Ansar fighters have returned from Iran since spring. "They're a very dangerous terrorist group," said Bremer, "and that's a lot of terrorists." Ansar infiltrators are prime suspects in several recent truck bombings in Iraq, including the explosion outside the Jordanian Embassy and the destruction of the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters.
Dozens of Ansar foot soldiers have been captured in recent months and are being interrogated by U.S. and Kurdish intelligence officials. The prisoners who were made available to Newsweek presented an unsettling picture. The young men themselves were a diverse lot, not unlike the rank and file of any fighting organization. But they described a group that has mutated and adapted since being forced out of its former base in Iraq, and whose leaders have an implacable hatred of America.
The fighting force is said to have been reorganized into small units of 10 to 15 members, each headed by an "emir." Most captured operatives have been unarmed. Before leaving Iran they were told only where to go for further instructions, usually a shop or house near the border where they would be sent on to another meeting place. Only after several stops would they receive weapons and specific orders for an attack.
Meanwhile Ansar's spiritual leader Mullah Krekar, who's living in Oslo, Norway, tells Investigative Correspondent Mark Hosenball that the American presence in Iraq is "like any other occupation that happened in history. Everyone knows that Muslims must do jihad against occupation everywhere." http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/031005/nysu012a_1.html
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Iran to disclose imported nuke parts
06.10.2003 - 14:45
By Paul Hughes
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran says it will give the U.N. nuclear watchdog a list of components imported for enriching uranium, which Washington
says is the heart of a secret atomic weapons programme.
But Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran, which has been given until October
31 to dispel doubts about its atomic aims, could not say exactly where the parts came from.
"These are items which were not bought officially, they were bought through intermediaries and it is not possible to trace intermediaries,"
Salehi told Reuters by telephone.
"We will give them (the IAEA) a list of the items and we will show them where they were stored because they were stored in a number of
places," he added.
An IAEA team arrived in Tehran late last week to conduct talks and inspections aimed at verifying Iran's position that its sophisticated
nuclear programme is solely geared to producing electricity and not bombs.
Should outstanding doubts remain at the time of the next IAEA Governors Board meeting in November, Iran's case may be sent to the U.N.
Security Council for possible sanctions.
Salehi's comments were the first details to emerge of concrete steps Iran is taking to meet the IAEA's demands for full transparency about
its nuclear programme since the IAEA team arrived.
The IAEA has said getting to the bottom of Iran's uranium enrichment programme -- which Tehran now acknowledges dates back to 1985
and not 1997 as it had originally told the agency -- is its top priority.
Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for nuclear energy reactors, or as bomb material if highly enriched.
SUSPICIOUS TRACES FOUND
IAEA inspectors have found traces of arms-grade enriched uranium at two sites in Iran this year. Tehran says the findings were caused by
contamination from imported parts and not a sign that it is secretly producing fissile material.
A Vienna-based diplomat said it was theoretically conceivable that the intermediaries who sold Iran the components on the black market in
the 1980s (during the Iran-Iraq war) were no longer contactable, as they probably did not run standard above-board businesses.
At the same time, the diplomat said it would be crucial for Iran to hand over a complete import list and all original documents pertaining to
the imports. Anything less would not be considered complete.
Iran refuses to accept as binding the IAEA's September resolution which set the October 31 deadline and called on Iran to halt enrichment
But Salehi said Iranian officials had agreed on an action plan with visiting IAEA officials to answer their outstanding concerns.
"So far things have been going very well. We hope it will continue as it has been. We have an initial understanding of what to do and I hope
it speeds up," he said.
However, diplomats remain sceptical that Iran will do enough to satisfy the IAEA. http://www.swisspolitics.org/en/news/index.php?section=int&page=news_inhalt&news_id=4313490
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