Iran is permitting around 25 high-ranking al Qaeda members to roam free in the country's capital, including three sons of Osama bin Laden, a German monthly magazine reported on Wednesday.That Iran is letting al Qaeda members hang out is not news, although the openness of the al Qaeda presence -- not even bothering to keep a low profile -- might be newsworthy. The eyebrow-raiser is that a German magazine broke the news on the latest intelligence findings about al Qaeda in Iran.
Citing information from unnamed Western intelligence sources, the magazine Cicero said in a preview of an article appearing in its November edition that the individuals in question are from Egypt, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Europe. They are living in houses belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the report said.
"This is not incarceration or house arrest," a Western intelligence agent was quoted as saying. "They can move around as they please."
The three sons of Osama bin Laden in Iran are Saeed, Mohammad and Othman, Cicero reported. Another person enjoying the support of the Revolutionary Guards is al Qaeda spokesman Abu Ghaib, the report said.
Iran first said late last year that it had arrested and would try a number of foreigners suspected of having links to al Qaeda, a loose network of military groups that Washington blames for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and bomb attacks in Spain, Indonesia, Egypt and elsewhere.
The report in Cicero also accused the Revolutionary Guards' secret service of offering logistical support and military training to senior al Qaeda leaders.
Iran has repeatedly denied any link to or support of al Qaeda. [...]
Technically, Angela Merkel at the helm in Germany should not mean a big shift in Germany's foreign policy; however, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, has already made himself unpopular in Europe. These things happen when an assassin with a rap sheet a mile long becomes a national leader.
Not content with embarrassing the EU Three (Britain, Germany and France), which worked so hard to negotiate with Iran about nukes, Amadi-Nejad is now trying to boss around Arab leaders. Yesterday he announced that Israel "must be wiped off the map" and warned Arab countries against developing economic ties with Israel in response to its withdrawal from Gaza.
Just to make sure nobody missed his drift Amadi-Nejad added, "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury."
The EU3 are trying to ignore the tacky remarks so they can restart talks with Iran about halting work at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility. This, according to unnamed diplomats quoted in today's Financial Times. One diplomat explained that the EU3 had made a point of keeping the nuclear issue separate from Iranian support for militant Palestinian groups during two years of talks.
Okay; but how are the EU3 going to keep the issue of al Qaeda bopping around Iran separate from the nuke talks?