Iran Intervening for al-Qaeda Prisoners
Iran has become involved in trying to assure the protection and repatriation of non-Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners.
Iran’s official news agency has agreed with the Afghanistan Defense Ministry that Iranian correspondents will be allowed to meet Al-Qaeda members now jailed in that country and to file reports on them. The Iranian agency announced that it would make these reports available internationally, and that the Afghani authorities have allowed it to take pictures and make films as well as prepare written reports.
A notable effect of Iran’s work will be in the prevention of abuse of the foreign prisoners by their Afghani guards, and even more so the “disappearance” of prisoners. Iran’s move is crucial in light of the American intention to try captured al-Qaeda members before military tribunals. Having international monitoring of this sort is usually an assurance of fair treatment by captors.
Iran reportedly became involved in the plight of the al-Qaeda prisoners when Pakistani asked it to mediate the release and fair treatment of Pakistani POWS held by the anti-Taliban forces. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf himself made the request, during a visit to Pakistan by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi one month ago, the Iran News reported at the time.
A large proportion of the captured Taliban forces are non-Afghanis, and even more so the al-Qaeda prisoners. These non-Afghans are mainly of Pakistani and Arab origin. Victorious anti-Taliban forces have been separating non-Afghans from the Afghani Taliban prisoners and jailing them in separate facilities. The U.S. has began to select prisoners for processing from among these jailed foreigners, and these may soon end up in a U.S. prison camp in Cuba awaiting military trial. (www.albawaba.com)