Iran: July 23, 2003


 The government admitted that it was holding "many" senior members of al Qaeda who had fled to Iran when the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan in late 2001. Without being specific, the government said that some would be tried in Iran (most likely for helping the Taliban kill Shia Afghans), while the rest would be expelled to their countries of origin. It is known that Iran has been discussing this expulsion with Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (the three countries where most al Qaeda members come from.) Many of these al Qaeda members have lost their citizenship in the countries of their birth because of their terrorist activities. As a result, there is really no place to send them. Iran does not want to turn any al Qaeda over to the US, although some talks on the subject have taken place. There is also an ongoing dispute in the Iranian government, between Islamic radicals who want to support al Qaeda, and more numerous Islamic conservatives and reformers who want to treat al Qaeda members as criminals.  


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