A senior CIA official has revealed that al Qaeda operatives in Iran probably had advance knowledge of recent terrorist attacks, a sign that the cooperation between Tehran and al Qaeda is continuing since September 11.
"There have been al Qaeda people who have stayed for some time in Iran ... and because they have been in touch with colleagues outside of Iran at times when operations have occurred, it's hard to imagine that they were unwitting of those operations," the senior official said.
"And it's not hard to make the leap that they may have had at least some operational knowledge. It's harder to make the leap that they were directing operations like that."
U.S. intelligence officials have said Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and the Qods Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a unit of hard-line Islamist shock troops, are deeply involved in supporting terrorists, including al Qaeda.
The report also disclosed that "intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al Qaeda figures after [Osama] bin Laden's return to Afghanistan [in 1997]."
The commission report also said that captured al Qaeda terrorist Waleed bin Attash, known as Khallad, disclosed that Iran's government "made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al Qaeda" after the October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor, Yemen.
According to the report, bin Laden rebuffed the offer from the Shi'ite regime in Iran because of fears that the cooperation would alienate Sunni supporters in Saudi Arabia.