BAKU: Azeri pundit says Saudi report of anti-US plot targets Iran

Azeri pundit says Saudi report of anti-US plot targets Iran

Ekho, Baku
20 Aug 04

Excerpt from N. Aliyev and Z. Alakbarov report by Azerbaijani
newspaper Ekho on 20 August headlined “Iranian secret services uncover
conspiracy against US citizens in Azerbaijan?” and subheaded “This has
been reported by an influential Saudi newspaper published in London”

Al-Qa’idah terrorists and representatives of the Iranian radical
revolutionary guard were going to perpetrate a series of terrorist
attacks on American citizens in Azerbaijan. The plot has been thwarted
by the Iranian secret services controlled by the reformist forces in
the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This sensational report has been carried by the influential and
informed Saudi newspaper published in London Asharq Al-Awsat quoting
informed sources in the Iranian secret services.

Passage omitted: background information about the newspaper

The newspaper says, quoting sources close to the Iranian secret
services, that the conspiracy was discovered after the secret services
had laid their hands on the correspondence between Al-Qa’idah, the
Iranian revolutionary guard and the so-called Al-Quds brigade. After
that, the Iranian secret services started tapping telephone
conversations of a senior official from the office of Iran’s spiritual
leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i. It transpired that he was actively
communicating with a high-ranking Al-Qa’idah member in Iran.

The investigation uncovered a “sensational conspiracy”. Members of
Al-Quds, Al-Qa’idah and the revolutionary guard had planned to kill US
military and intelligence personnel working in several
countries. According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the terrorist operation was
to take place first in Azerbaijan. Besides our country, Armenia and
Turkmenistan were mentioned as well.

The newspaper has also established the main purpose of the planned
killings. Terrorists were planning to involve Iran in a direct
standoff with the USA and the countries bordering on Iran in the

It is noteworthy that the US and Iranian embassies in Azerbaijan have
refused to provide a comment on Asharq Al-Awsat’s report. The US
embassy, for example, said that the diplomatic mission does not
provide comments on issues connected with the security of US citizens
abroad. As for the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry, it has no
press office and one cannot obtain comments on any issue there.

According to the director of the Centre for study of terrorism and
asymmetric threats, Cahangir Aras, there is really a standoff between
the reformist and conservative blocks in the Iranian
administration. However, according to Aras, “their confrontation has
not yet reached a point where one power-wielding entity could be
openly opposed to the other”.

Aras believes that although Asharq Al-Awsat is indeed a well-known and
informed edition, the newspaper has frequently been accused of
deliberately spreading misinformation, the reasons of which can only
be guessed.

At the same time, the director of the centre said that suggestions of
possible contacts between the Iranian revolutionary guard and
Al-Qa’idah were quite interesting and that different sources had
speculated on this idea.

“However, reports like this one are not substantiated by facts, which
reminds us of similar accusations of the Saddam Husayn regime of links
with Al-Qa’idah. Therefore, the Asharq Al-Awsat report is just another
volley in the information war against Iran,” the expert said.