The abduction of an Iranian attaché in Pakistan can be interpreted as the onset of war between Iran and al-Qaeda, says a senior militant.
“This is payback time for Iran and for its active involvement in destabilizing the Taliban government in Afghanistan and for facilitating the US-led invasion on Afghanistan through pro-Iranian Afghan groups,” Italy’s Adnkronos International news agency quoted a senior militant as saying on condition of anonymity.
“[The diplomat was kidnapped in retaliation for] the arrest of top al-Qaeda leaders in Iran, for facilitating the US invasion on Iraq through pro-Iran militias and last but not the least for waging the war on the Taliban,” claimed the militant.
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The news agency did not reveal whether the questioned militant had ties with al-Qaeda.
Unknown gunmen kidnapped Iranian diplomat Heshmatullah Attarzadeh-Niyaki on his way to the Iranian consulate on Thursday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. His driver was killed during the attack.
Pakistani police have so far arrested five suspects in connection with the case, but the whereabouts of Attarsadeh-Niyaki is still unknown.
A senior Pakistani political advisor, Rehman Malik, said Friday that the unidentified gunmen belonged to the notorious Taliban umbrella group, Tehrik-e-Taliban, although no group has yet claimed responsibility.
The anonymous militant claimed that al-Qaeda will carry out ‘more attacks and actions… against Iranian interests in coming days’.
The Islamic Republic was a leading opponent of the Taliban when the radical regime ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The two neighbors came close to war in 1998 after the Taliban killed nine Iranian diplomats in the central Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
While US officials continue to accuse Iran of arming militants in Afghanistan and destabilizing Iraq, an October report by the MIT Center for International Studies confirmed that Tehran made major contributions to the war against the Taliban following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.