FOX NEWS (NY Post) – WASHINGTON — Ayman al-Zawahiri, Usama bin Laden’s right-hand man, was reported last night to be in custody in Iran along with several other top Al Qaeda leaders.
The Arabic news channel Al-Arabiyah said the fanatic Egyptian-born doctor is under arrest in Iran along with bin Laden’s son Saad and Al Qaeda’s infamous spokesman Abu Ghaith.
The report said they may be sent back to their home countries.
Al-Zawahiri has been sentenced to death in Egypt for his role in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
Saad bin Laden is considered to be a rising star in the terror organization, while the fat-faced, bearded Abu Ghaith, a close bin Laden aide, frequently appeared on video broadcasts during the war in Afghanistan.
Bush administration officials, who have accused Iran of harboring several Al Qaeda leaders, said they could not confirm the report of al-Zawahiri’s presence in Iran.
The officials said it remains questionable whether Iran plans to detain Al Qaeda henchmen – or is allowing them to establish a new base of operations.
The possibility of Al Qaeda operatives in Iran has prompted a review of White House policy toward that country, and officials said they are debating options that include covert operations aimed at toppling the ayatollahs who rule Iran.
Al-Zawahiri, whom many consider the real brains behind Al Qaeda and who often has appeared at bin Laden’s side during videotaped statements, is perhaps the most wanted man in the world after bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
He has been missing since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where his wife and other family members were killed during U.S. bombing raids on the Tora Bora mountain fortress in December 2001.
U.S. intelligence officials said they’ve had conflicting reports about al-Zawahiri’s movements.
Some reports suggest he is still traveling with bin Laden in the lawless no man’s land along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, while other reports suggested the two Al Qaeda leaders have agreed to travel separately in order to preserve the organization in the event that either is captured or killed.
“There has been some raw reporting several months back that he did in fact stray into Iran, but we have not been able to verify it,” said a U.S. intelligence official.