How Iran and al-Qaeda made a deal

ISLAMABAD – On March 30, Heshmatollah Attarzadeh, the commercial attache at the Iranian consulate in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, was “recovered from outside Iran and returned to Iran” after being abducted by militants on November 13, 2008.

In a terse statement, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced that Attarzadeh had been freed after a “complicated intelligence operation” by Iranian intelligence forces, without giving further details, apart from a dig at Pakistan: “Following the failure of the Pakistani government to secure the release of Attarzadeh, my ministry took the initiative and managed to rescue the diplomat,” Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said.

Attarzadeh, 59, was more outspoken. In an interview with the Iranian state-owned Press TV, he said Israel’s Mossad and the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, under orders from the US, were behind his abduction.

Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, after a meeting with Attarzadeh, did not comment on these claims, instead taking time for a little back-patting. “The freedom of the diplomat shows the all-out might of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its all-around dominance in the realm of intelligence,” Rahimi was quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency as saying.

Investigations by Asia Times Online show that while the Iranians did indeed secure Attarzadeh’s release, it came at a price: a deal with al-Qaeda that result…

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