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US Intelligence Sources: Some al-Qaida in Iranian Training Camps - 2002-09-26

U.S. intelligence sources have detected what they say is a terrorist training camp in eastern Iran that has been used by some al-Qaida fighters.

Intelligence sources say the camp in eastern Iran is like scores of other terrorist training facilities scattered around remote areas in various countries in the Middle East.

These sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, tell VOA they believe al-Qaida members have used the camp. But they do not believe it is an exclusively al-Qaida facility, despite its proximity to the border with Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, during an exchange with reporters at the Pentagon Thursday, declined to discuss the camp. But he said again there is no question that many al-Qaida members are now living in Iran. "There are a lot of al-Qaida in Iran. Iran is providing haven and they're telling their people they're not, the government is. And they're not telling their people the truth and they are there and they do not like it when we say that but they are," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

The disclosure by intelligence sources of detection of the terrorist camp follows publication of a report alleging that U.S. soldiers deployed on anti-terrorist operations in western Afghanistan are moving closer to the Iranian border.

A senior defense official, responding to questions about the report, declined Wednesday to comment on specific troop movements, citing security concerns.

But the official said U.S. forces have been in western Afghanistan before and will continue to move through the region as commanders deem necessary.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, went on to say Iran could only be upset about such U.S. movements if it had reason to fear what the Americans might uncover about Iranian activities. He said if Iran is not engaged in any support of terrorism, then it has nothing to fear from the U.S. military.