Iran says US claim linking al-Qaeda leader to Tehran ‘laughable’

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Iran’s foreign minister dismissed on Thursday the US claim that an Iran-based Egyptian has become the new leader of al-Qaeda, calling it “laughable.”

“I advise White House officials to stop the failed game of Iran-phobia. Creating news about the leader of al-Qaeda and linking it to Iran is laughable,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian wrote on Twitter, accusing Washington of being the “creator” of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

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The US State Department said on Wednesday that Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian currently based in Iran, had succeeded Ayman al-Zawahiri following the latter’s death in July 2022.

“Our assessment aligns with that of the UN – that al-Qaeda’s new de facto leader Saif al-Adel is based in Iran,” a State Department spokesperson said.

The United Nations report released Tuesday said that the predominant view of member states is that Adel is now the group’s leader, “representing continuity for now.”

But the group has not formally declared him “emir” because of sensitivity to the concerns of the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, who haven’t wanted to acknowledge that Zawahiri was killed by a US rocket in a home in Kabul last year, according to the UN report.

In addition, the UN report said, the terrorist group al-Qaeda is sensitive to the issue of Adel residing in largely Shia Iran.

Adel, 62, is a former Egyptian special forces lieutenant-colonel and figure in the old guard of al-Qaeda.

He helped build the extremist group’s operational capacity and trained some of the hijackers who took part in the September 11, 2001 attack on the US, according to the US Counter Extremism Project.

He has been in Iran since 2002 or 2003, at first under house arrest but later free enough to make trips to Pakistan, according to Ali Soufan, a former FBI counter-terrorism investigator.

With AFP

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