Osama bin Laden and top aides are hiding in Sabzevar, Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis June 8, 2010, 12:16 AM (GMT+02:00)Tags: Iran Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden stayed out of sight for yearsOsama bin Laden's hiding place was pinned down for the first time Monday, June 7, by the Kuwaiti Al-Siyassa Monday, June 7, as the mountainous town of Savzevar in the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan, 220 km west of Mashhad. He is said to have lived there under Tehran's protection for the last five years, along with Ayman Al-Zawahiri and five other high-ranking al Qaeda leaders.
debkafile's intelligence sources disclosed Monday night that Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan and his intelligence chiefs are well aware that Bin Laden and Zawahiri are hiding in Iran. The leak to the Kuwait paper was intended to show the Obama administration that the Turkish leader's ties with Iran had grown intense enough for him to be fully in the picture of Iran's secret sanctuary for the authors of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Savzevar, a small town of about a quarter of a million inhabitants, is connected by road to Tehran and Mashhad and has a small airport. A center for producing grapes and raisins, its location is remote and difficult to access because it is enclosed by lofty mountains and a salt desert 50,000 square kilometers in area.
On May 13, American intelligence sources reported in detail that senior al Qaeda operatives living in Iran had been allowed to leave the country through Syria to orchestrate terrorist attacks on American targets. Among them was Saif al-Adel, who is believed to have been assigned with planning an attack on the world soccer games opening in South Africa on June 12.
Those sources noted that Saif al-Adel had received his instructions directly from Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri but did not reveal knowledge of their presence in Iran.
debkafile's counter-terror sources disclose that the purpose of airing their precise whereabouts at this time, aside from implicating the Turkish leader, was first, to warn al Qaeda's leaders that their hideout was blown and they had better move on - which would make them easier to catch; and, second, to nudge US president Barak Obama into a decision to go after them.
A rare opportunity may now be building up to capture the world's most wanted terrorist, debkafile's counter-terror sources report. Last December, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged the United States has not had any good intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts in years. Until recently, the elusive master-terrorist was generally thought to have gone to ground in the wilder parts of Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.
Iran troops establish base inside northern Iraq
BAGHDAD — Iran has sent troops into neighboring Iraq in search for Kurdish insurgents.
A senior official said the Iranian Army deployed troops in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan province in early June. Deputy Kurdish Interior Minister Jabar Yawar said 35 Iranian soldiers raided Iraq and established a base in the Kurdish village of Perdunaz on June 3.
"They have been here for several days," Yawar said on June 5.
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At this point, the Iranian military presence has reached fewer than three kilometers inside Iraq. Yawar said the Iranian incursion was launched after several days of artillery shelling of an area east of Irbid, the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government.
Officials said the Iranian military has begun constructing a camp in Iraq. They said Iranian military trucks were transporting building material and equipment to the site.
"The [Iranian] forces have moved into the border area between two and three kilometers," Yawar said. "We have informed the Iraqi border police and Interior Ministry in Baghdad and hope the central government will take a clear and firm position."
In May 2010, Iran was said to have launched an offensive against the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PEJAK, an arm of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). Teheran has accused Kurdistan of serving as a safe haven of PEJAK.
So far, the Iraqi government has refused to acknowledge the Iranian incursion. In January, Baghdad and Teheran engaged in a military standoff when Iranian troops raided an oil field in eastern Iraq.
At the same time, Iran executed five convicted Kurdish insurgents on charges of membership in PEJAK. Teheran has charged that the Kurdish insurgents have been supported by British and U.S. intelligence.
On June 6, KRG called on Iran to withdraw its troops from Kurdistan. Officials said Iran might have also conducted aerial reconnaissance over northern Iraq.
"We express our deep concern over the continued shelling and violations of the sovereignty of Iraqi territory in the Kurdistan region," KRG spokesman Mahmoud Kawa said.
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