Report: Iran frees top AQ capo Saif al-Adel after years of house arrest

“It is almost certain that Saif al-Adel has been released, that he is currently in the Pakistani province of North Waziristan, and is operating as al-Qaida’s military chief,” said Noman Benotman, a senior analyst at the London-based Quilliam Foundation counter-extremism think tank. The Libyan is one of the world’s leading experts on al-Qaida. Before his spectacular about-turn in 2002, Benotman was himself a trainer at jihadi military camps in Afghanistan, where he led the Libyan mujahedeen. He says his sources on Saif al-Adel are reliable.

Benotman isn’t alone in this claim. “Saif al-Adel has left Iran and is currently somewhere in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” a European intelligence officer told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “It’s likely that he has hooked up with terrorists structures.”…

Saif al-Adel’s return is probably the biggest break al-Qaida has had in a decade. In fact, al-Adel is considered such a potential threat that according to information received by SPIEGEL ONLINE, US intelligence services have regularly discussed how dangerous it would be if Iran recruited him to organize retaliation attacks in response to a potential bombing of its nuclear facilities.