zarqawi dead 298.88.
(photo credit: CNN)
Iran is happy to see al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi dead, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday, rejecting speculation that Tehran exchanged intelligence with Washington that helped find him.
Al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US airstrike northeast of Baghdad on Wednesday, was the most feared insurgent leader in Iraq, carrying out some of the bloodiest attacks on Shiite civilians.
Iran, a non-Arab country that is majority Shiite, has close ties to the Shiite parties that now dominate Iraq's government, which al-Zarqawi sought to topple.
"It is natural that we, like the Iraqi people, are happy from this occurance," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
"This doesn't mean that we cooperated with the US in getting him. We had no exchange of intelligence with the US at all (on this)," Asefi said.
There has been some speculation in the Arabic press that Iran helped pinpoint al-Zarqawi's location, though no evidence was ever provided. The US military said it tracked al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser to the Jordanian-born militant and killed them both in the strike on their safehouse.
US officials have said al-Zarqawi crossed Iran when he fled Afghanistan to Iraq in late 2001 or early 2002. Biographies of al-Zarqawi written by sympathizers and posted on Islamic Web sites have had similar accounts.
Iran confirmed in 2004 that some al-Qaida operatives may have illegally passed through Iran from Afghanistan months before the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide plane hijackings in the United States, but it has not given any names.
Iran insists it has made a significant contribution to the war on terror by arresting agents of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, but the United States accuses Tehran of harboring - not cracking down on - al-Qaida fugitives.