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Rumsfeld: Al Qaeda, Taliban may have escaped to Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iran may have allowed al Qaeda and Taliban leaders to escape from Afghanistan across its border during the U.S.-led military campaign, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday.

"There isn't any doubt in my mind but that the porous border between Iran and Afghanistan has been used for al Qaeda and Taliban to move into Iran and find refuge," Rumsfeld said on ABC's "This Week."

He also said the Iranians "have not done what the Pakistan government has done -- put troops along the border and prevent terrorists from escaping out of Afghanistan into their country."

"We have any number of reports that Iran has been permissive and allowed transit through their country of al Qaeda," he said. "We have any number of reports more recently that they have been supplying arms in Afghanistan to various elements in the country."

The defense chief was responding to a report in Time magazine that quoted Afghan sources as saying that a high-ranking Iranian official with ties to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini, had gone into Afghanistan to organize the escape of Taliban and al Qaeda members.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush described Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq, as part of an "axis of evil" that supported terrorism.




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