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Iran Reportedly Foils al-Qaida Attack - 2003-08-17

Plans by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network to attack Iran have been foiled by Iranian security agents, according to a senior Iranian official.

Iranian media quote national security chief Hassan Rohani as saying his intelligence agencies uncovered terrorist plans by al-Qaida to carry out attacks in the Islamic republic.

Without naming possible targets, the security chief said the terrorists planned a wide range of attacks in Iran, but said those plans were uncovered and "foiled" by Iranian security services.

While the United States has accused Iran of harboring al-Qaida terrorists, Tehran has repeatedly denied any collaboration with the terrorist group. It claims it has al-Qaida members in custody and plans to extradite others who are from countries with whom it has good relations. But it has ruled out giving the United States access to the prisoners.

Iran has never identified any of the al-Qaida members it has in custody.

But a Saudi official said last week that Iran has up to 15 top al-Qaida members, including a son of Osama bin Laden and the terrorist group's security chief.