Monday, June 13, 2005

The daily fairy tale: Osama 'in and out' of Iran

Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who has been the subject of a worldwide manhunt after carrying out the 9/11 terror attacks, has been in and out of Iran several times over the past few years, a US lawmaker said on Sunday.

Representative Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican, wrote a book on terrorism using an Iranian source dubbed "Ali," whose credibility was questioned by a Central Intelligence Agency agent.

Bin Laden, whose al-Qaeda network was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, "has been in and out of Iran, and now we have military generals telling us that," Weldon told NBC's Meet the Press.

"Interestingly enough, the CIA totally refuted that when I first went to them. And by the way, the person who gave me this entire lead was a former Democrat member of Congress," he said.

The lawmaker said he did not know whether bin Laden was in Iran today.

"I gave the CIA hits over the past five months that he was there twice, and I also told them two years ago he was in a small town in a southern part of Iran called Ladiz, 10km inside the border with Pakistan in Baluchistan," he said.

"I'd say he's been in and out repeatedly."

Weldon defended the Iranian source he used in his book Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America and How the CIA Has Ignored It.

But Bill Murray, the former CIA station chief in Paris, told US newspapers he met four times with "Ali" in Paris and that the source's information was not credible.

Weldon countered that he received a letter from the CIA last year which ended with: "We welcome further information from Ali."

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