"The story of al-Qaida and Iran is one that often is hard to figure out"

Despite his travel to Pakistan, al-Adel has so far chosen to remain based in Iran with his wife and family, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

This suggests that al-Adel and perhaps lower-level al-Qaida figures now consider Iran a viable outpost, with fewer restrictions and the added security that a U.S. commando raid or drone strike on Iranian soil is unlikely. Al-Adel, an Egyptian who allegedly helped mastermind the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, is among the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists and the U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for his capture…

“The story of al-Qaida and Iran is one that often is hard to figure out,” said Karasik. “But there is a sense that Iran is not just a bystander. Links to top figures like al-Adel gives Iran channels to al-Qaida’s inner workings if they want to go on that path.”

With al-Zawahri leading the al-Qaida, al-Adel is likely to remain a behind-the-scenes organizer and planner of possible new attacks.