Arab allies mum about Iran links to Bin Laden : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Arab allies mum about Iran links to Bin Laden SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM Saturday, October 6, 2001

CAIRO Arab allies of the United States have declined to provide intelligence information about Iran's involvement with Osama Bin Laden and international terrorism. As a result, the Bush administration has removed Iran from the list of targets in its coming war against terrorism.

Arab diplomatic sources said Gulf and Middle East allies of Washington have turned a deaf ear to any intelligence exchange bearing on Teheran's support for terrorism. In some cases, the sources said, the U.S. request was turned down with the explanation that the groups supported by Iran are regarded as freedom fighters. The result, the sources said, is that U.S. envoys have played down any link between Bin Laden and Iran's sponsorship of Islamic terrorism. Iran's activities have been termed as regional terrorism while Washington has focused on global terrorism.

"Nobody wants to start up with Iran these days," a diplomatic source told Middle East Newsline. "Whatever happens in the U.S.-led campaign, Iran will come out stronger." The sources said Sudan, regarded as one of the most cooperative of Arab countries, has refused to disclose details of Iranian-sponsored groups in Khartoum. Sudan, which at one point offered to help capture Bin Laden, seeks to be removed from the State Department list of terrorist sponsors. The rejection, the sources said, included any questions regarding Hizbullah or the Palestinian Hamas organization. Both are said to use Khartoum for training and recruitment.

The U.S. has been investigating Iran's role in the 1996 bombing of U.S. military barracks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen servicemen were killed and the insurgents are believed to have fled to Saudi Arabia. Lebanon has been bombarded by requests from the United States regarding four Saudi suspects in the Khobar attack. The insurgents are believed to have been trained and sent from Lebanon in an operation said to have involved the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. One of the four suspects being sought by Washington is Ahmed Ibrahim Al Mursel, said to have been a commander in the Khobar attack. Lebanon, a close ally of Iran, has pledged to cooperate in any U.S. request.

The United States and the European Union have called freezing the assets of 27 organizations believed directly linked to Bin Laden or its partner, the Egyptian Jihad group. Not included are such Iranian-sponsored groups as Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad. Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have announced moves against the 27 groups. Gulf sources said Bin Laden agents have obtained millions of dollars through charities based in Gulf Cooperation Council states. "We don't think there is a real channel to Al Qaida," Kuwaiti Information Minister Ahmad Fahad Al Sabah said. "There may be individual cases and we're taking concrete decisions to put a stop to that."

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-- Robert A Riggs (, October 07, 2001

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