Al-Qaeda Leaders Protected in Iran

(Washington Post) - Saad bin Laden, 24, an English-speaking, computer-literate son of Osama bin Laden, has emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the al-Qaeda network, a small group of leaders that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran, according to U.S., European, and Arab officials. Saad and other senior al-Qaeda operatives were in contact with an al-Qaeda cell in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the days immediately prior to the May 12 suicide bombing there. Like other al-Qaeda leaders in Iran, Saad is protected by an elite, radical Iranian security force loyal to the nation's clerics, known as the Jerusalem Force. Also under the Jerusalem Force's protection is Saif al-Adel, al-Qaeda's chief of military operations; Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, the organization's chief financial officer; and perhaps two dozen other top al-Qaeda leaders. Saudi officials estimate there are up to 400 al-Qaeda members in Iran. An analysis of Osama bin Laden's satellite telephone calls from 1996 to 1998 showed that more than 10% were placed to Iran, demonstrating the ongoing contacts with Iran during that time, according to Rohan Gunaratna, director of terrorism research at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

2003-10-14 00:00:00

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