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Iran: Minister Says Border Detainees Are Not Al-Qaeda

Tehran, 18 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi has said the roughly 150 foreigners arrested recently on Iran's borders with Pakistan are not members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Kharrazi said today that Iran is waiting to repatriate the individuals, arrested recently on the Pakistani border. He said there is no member of Al-Qaeda among them.

He said it is possible that some of these people supported one group or another but, according to Tehran's inquiries, they are not members of Al-Qaeda.

Reports last week said that Iran had arrested some 150 members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, lending weight to U.S. assertions that the country was allowing Al-Qaeda members to escape into Iran.