The United States has intercepts that show senior Al Qaeda operatives in Iran (search) probably played a big role in the recent bombings in Saudi Arabia (search), a senior U.S. official confirmed to Fox News.
The official said the U.S. had intercepts for months prior to the bombings, which showed that senior Al Qaeda operatives in Iran were communicating with Al Qaeda (search) operatives in Saudi Arabia about an upcoming attack, with cryptic language suggesting the attack was going to happen in Saudi Arabia.
The operatives had been in Iran for at least months, and came there after they fled Afghanistan during the U.S. military's attack aimed at toppling the Taliban government.
The U.S. official also said there is intelligence after the Riyadh attacks that strongly suggests these operatives were pleased with their mission and involved in the attacks. The official stresses the intercepts were cryptic, with no specificity as to exact target, date or type of attack.
The Washington Post reported in its Sunday edition that the Bush administration has cut off contact with Iran -- and Pentagon officials are pushing for action they believe may destabilize the Islamic republic's government.
The newspaper, citing administration officials, said the White House "appears ready to embrace an aggressive policy of trying to destabilize the Iranian government."
Asked about the report, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "No, our policy continues to be the same." The United States insists that Iran stop supporting terrorists and end illicit weapons programs, he said. "Iran knows what it needs to do," he said.
In Tehran, Iran's foreign minister insisted his country does not and would not shelter Al Qaeda terrorists, and even has jailed some members of Usama bin Laden's network and plans to prosecute them.
"Iran has been the pioneer in fighting Al Qaeda terrorists, who have been posing threats to our national interests," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the government's Tehran Television. "Iran was Al Qaeda's enemy before the U.S."
Worry about possible activities of senior Al Qaeda operatives thought to be in Iran was a factor in raising the domestic terror alert level in the United States last week, officials have said. Those operatives are suspected of being connected to the recent bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
"There's no question but that there have been and are today senior Al Qaeda leaders in Iran, and they are busy," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week.
Nonetheless, U.S. officials are finding ways of communicating with Iranian officials "on subjects that are important to us," the State Department said last week.
One issue is Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons. Washington rejects Iran's contention that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.
The United States has labeled Iran as an exporter of terrorism since Washington began drawing up such a list in 1979 -- the year the Islamic republic was founded and then sponsored the seizure of the U.S. Embassy. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days, and U.S.-Iran relations have remained severed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.