Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman has rejected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s allegation that Iran harbours Al-Qaeda leaders, describing it as a “big lie” aimed at distracting attention from the Saudi support for terrorism worldwide.
“Mohammad bin Salman’s claim that Al-Qaeda leaders are in Iran is a big lie,” Bahram Qassemi said in a Tuesday statement.
“He cannot deny the role of Saudi leaders in creating the most dangerous terrorist groups in the contemporary history and major terrorist attacks like 9/11 by making obvious lies,” he added.
Qassemi was reacting to remarks by Mohammed Bin Salman in an interview with US television channel CBS aired Sunday night accusing Iran of being a destabilizing force in the region that has been hosting and supporting Al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama Bin Laden’s son.
The spokesman explained that some Al-Qaeda affiliates, including some members of the family of the group’s leader Osama bin Laden, entered Iran illegally in early 2000s, fleeing the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
All the Al-Qaeda members were arrested at the time and deported to Afghanistan, except for some of them who were delivered to their countries, including one of bin Laden’s daughters who was sent to Saudi Arabia, Qassemi said.
The spokesman said the crown prince is “outrageously” trying to pave his way to the Saudi throne.
“Apparently, transferring hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth of the Saudi people to US arms manufacturers has not been enough and he has to come up with a solution to delete the records proving the incumbent Saudi leaders’ support for terrorism and extremism,” he said.
Qassemi said Bin Salman’s recent interview with the CBS showed the Crown Prince is a terrible liar who does not even know the history and culture of his country.
“It’s no secret that Saudi intelligence service created the Al-Qaeda terrorist group and has systematic contact with them,” he said, referring to a 28-page section of the Joint Inquiry of Congress’ Investigation into the September 11 attacks in 2002 referring to foreign state sponsors of Al-Qaeda.
“It is part of the unchangeable facts that show many Saudi officials were openly complicit in the [9/11] attack,” he said.
The 28 pages, suppressed for years, were ultimately released by the US government in July 2016.
While it did not reveal any direct links between Saudi officials and Al Qaeda, it stated that the US intelligence community deeply suspected there were such connections at the time .