WASHINGTON -- US intelligence and foreign allies have growing evidence that wanted terrorists have been staying in Iran despite repeated American warnings to Tehran not to harbor them.
The evidence, which extends over several years, includes communications by a fugitive mastermind of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing and the capture of a Saudi militant who appeared in a video in which Osama bin Laden confirmed he ordered the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to US and foreign officials.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because much of the evidence remains classified.
Saudi intelligence officers tracked and apprehended Khaled bin Ouda bin Mohammed al-Harbi last year in eastern Iran, officials said. The arrest came nearly three years after the cleric appeared with bin Laden and discussed details of the Sept. 11 planning during a dinner that was videotaped and aired worldwide.
The capture was a coup for Saudi Arabia, which spent months tracking him and setting up the intelligence operation that led to his being taken into custody in exchange for eventual amnesty.
The officials said interrogations of Harbi, now in Saudi Arabia, have yielded confirmation of many Al Qaeda tactics, including how members crossed into Iran after the US began military operations to rout Al Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan.
Harbi is believed to have been paralyzed from the waist down while fighting in the 1990s beside Muslim extremists in Bosnia and Afghanistan, and he surprised intelligence officials when he appeared in the December 2001 video with bin Laden.
''Everybody praises what you did," Harbi said on the tape.
US and foreign intelligence agencies also have evidence from the late 1990s that indicates Ahmad Ibrahim al-Mughassil is still hiding in Iran. He is wanted as one of the masterminds of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans.
Mughassil, who also goes by the alias Abu Omran, has been charged as a fugitive by the United States with conspiracy to commit murder in the attacks and has a $5 million bounty on his head.
Intelligence agencies gathered evidence, including a specific phone number, as early as 1997 indicating Mughassil was living in Iran.