Iran rejects U.S. allegation on al Qaeda operative

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 25, 2011 4:18 AM
Iran rejects U.S. allegation on al Qaeda operative

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran rejected as "completely baseless" U.S. allegations that it was harboring an al Qaeda member who is accused of operating as a facilitator and financier for the group from the Islamic Republic, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Sunday.

The United States announced Thursday that it was establishing a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Syrian-born Yasin al-Suri, who is also known as Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil.

"The American government's recent unwise scenario regarding Iran's involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks and the presence of an al Qaeda member in Iran is completely baseless," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday, according to Fars.

Al-Suri has been accused of helping move money and recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in neighboring countries under an agreement between the group and the Iranian government, Senior State Department official Robert Hartung has said.

The $10 million bounty was the first offered for an al Qaeda financier and is aimed at disrupting a financial network that has operated from within Iran's borders since 2005, the Treasury Department said.

Friday a federal district court in Manhattan ruled that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.

"The world should consider the consequences of such irresponsible behavior by American officials ... It is also necessary that the international community shows its deep concerns to the American government," Mehmanparast said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the September 11 attacks on the United States a "big fabrication" by Washington that was used to justify the U.S. war on terrorism.

The United States and its Western allies have been locked in a standoff with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, which Washington believes is aimed at producing nuclear weapons but which Tehran says is solely for peaceful purposes.

(Writing by Mitra Amiri; Editing by Jon Hemming)