Citing an “unimpeachable source,” Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are in Iran, according to a Fox News analyst.
Al-Zawahiri was seen within the last two weeks, and bin Laden was spotted in July, says the network’s foreign affairs analyst Mansoor Ijaz.
The report dovetails with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s announcement last summer that he had sent his own army into the northern tribal areas near the border with Iran to ferret out bin Laden.
“That was an extraordinary admission at the time, one that I could not understand how he could make if bin Laden, in fact, was still in that area,” Ijaz told Fox News host Brit Hume. “Well, it turns out that it was around that time that bin Laden moved from the Afghan-Pakistani border into Iran.”
Al-Zawahiri has been seen recently in Iran planning and plotting various terrorist attacks against U.S. interests and other countries, he said.
Both al-Qaida leaders are disguised. Bin Laden, Ijaz has been told, shaved his head bald and is wearing a shorter beard that is dyed to make him look more like an Iranian cleric. He also has put on a considerable amount of weight.
Al-Zawahiri has done something similar, Ijaz said, and is now wearing a black turban and dyed beard instead of the traditional white turban he wore as an Egyptian cleric.
Bin Laden is being kept out of the public while al-Zawahiri is said to be moving around quite freely, Ijaz said.
The analyst said the Revolutionary Guard of Iran has arranged for at least three to four body doubles that are making their way around different parts of Afghanistan to fool bin Laden’s pursuers.
“But I can tell you with unimpeachability tonight that he is on the western border of Iran, inside Iran, planning terrorist attacks against the United States’ interests in that part of the world,” Ijaz said.
He explained that Iran’s provision of safe harbor, finances and logistical support for al-Qaida is a measure to counter the possibility that U.S. action in that region could result in democracies on both sides of the country, in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ijaz said a warlord who controls Afghanistan’s western provinces, Gulbuddin Hektmayer, is working with al-Qaida on a plan to bring a large army of Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops into Afghanistan during the winter months to attack U.S. interests and to try to take control of the entire country.
“Iran does not want to see us succeed in building a democracy in Afghanistan under any circumstances,” he said.
In short, according to Ijaz, Iranian technology is now being used to help the Afghan warlords to take over the country from Hamid Karzai,” the Afghan president.
Ijaz said it is likely certain segments of the U.S. government have the information on bin Laden and are analyzing and processing it.
“But it was my judgment, he said, “that it was vitally important for the broader part of our government’s decision-making apparatus to know exactly what it is that’s going on there, because it’s very clear that the Iranians are trying desperately to not only hang on to power, but to fuel the terrorist enterprise in that part of the world.”