Police in Canada claimed Monday that two men suspected of plotting to derail a passenger train were guided by Al Qaeda elements in Iran, but it did not any evidence to substantiate the claim.
The Canadian police said there was no reason to believe that the plotted attacks were sponsored by any state, which would mean the Iranian government was not involved. Police provided no further details regarding the alleged involvement of Al Qaeda elements in Iran in the plot.
In reply, Salehi told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting on the Caspian Sea legal regime here in Tehran that assertions about al-Qaeda activity in Iran are "the most ridiculous claim" he has ever heard.
"Al-Qaeda in Iran, it is a sheer lie, a scandalous lie that surprised me," Salehi said, and asked the Canadian government to respect the public opinion's power of wisdom and understanding.
Meantime, the statement surprised many experts who study terrorism in the Middle East.
"It frankly doesn't compute for me," Los Angeles times quoted Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, as saying. "If there is any link, I would think it was extremely tangential."
Iran and al-Qaeda have frequently had chilly relations, according to Slavin and other experts, the report added.
Iran is majority Shiite, while Al Qaeda is firmly Sunni. In Syria, Al-Qaeda has jumped into the fray alongside opposition fighters while Iran has backed President Bashar al-Assad. Iran has also held al-Qaeda members in the country under house arrest, monitoring their activities, the US daily added.
The daily added that documents confiscated from Osama bin Laden's hide-out in Pakistan and released last year suggested discord between the two.
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