(MENAFN - Arab Times) The decision by Iran to expel former al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith, gives an indication that there is a campaign against the group in Iran, the country which since long has given the al-Qaeda network members safe haven within its borders, says Al-Rai daily quoting the Washington Post of the US.
Abu Ghaith, son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, whose nationality has been withdrawn by Kuwait, is the third prominent leader in the organization to leave Iran over the past year after he was allegedly held under what the Iranian authorities called 'house arrest'. US officials and experts on terrorism say, the decision taken by Tehran is the most stringent and reflects the growing tension between the Shiite clerics on the one hand and on the other due to the 'civil war' which is slowly unfolding on the Syrian front, and each of them is supported by feuding factions.
At the same time, analysts say the US officials and Western intelligence agencies see steps being taken in part by Iran to maintain ties with al-Qaeda by allowing the organization to use its territory as a transit route to and from Afghanistan.
During an interview with David Cohen - Cohen has served as US Treasury Undersecretary for Intelligence on Terrorism and its Financing - by the Washington Post, he was quoted as saying: "We believe that Iran is still going to allow the al-Qaeda network to operate from its territory by allowing it to move money and fighters to support the activities of the organization in South Asia."
In the context of shedding light on the sometimes contradictory nature that characterize the relationship, Cohen said "funding and fighters are sent to Syria, to fight Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda who are fighting the regular troops (Syrian), backed by Iran. Meanwhile, the daily quoting the Post said documents, obtained from the residence of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan earlier, shed more light on the relationship between the network and Iran - a relationship that is maintained by the parties in spite of the mistrust and sharp differences between them on ideologies and tactics.
Commenting on this relationship, Bruce Riedel, who was a former officer in the CIA and a consultant in the fight against terrorism in the Obama Administration said, "It's a benefit relationship, with the presence of some very rough edges."
For years, that relationship included officially undeclared policy based on granting a safe haven to al-Qaeda members who fled from Afghanistan and elsewhere to Iran in the wake of the defeat of the Taleban in Afghanistan in late 2001.
Iran allowed a number of officials and employees of the al-Qaeda - including one of the wives of bin Laden and a number of his sons - to reside freely in eastern Iran at first, but later under relative loose form of house arrest.
US officials say that such restrictions were in response to Western pressure, as a kind of preventive measure against any misconduct on the part of al-Qaeda on Iranian territory. But after a decade, it looks like Iran is fed up with its 'guests'.