TEHRAN, Iran – There are no senior members of Al Qaeda (search) in detention in Iran, the country's state-run radio reported Monday.
"Iran has detained a number of Al Qaeda members, but the detainees are not senior members of the group," the radio quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.
The United States accused Iran last week of harboring senior Al Qaeda members, including the group's security chief, Saif al-Adil; Usama bin Laden's son, Saad; and Abu Musab Zarqawi, the operational commander whom Washington accuses of ties to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Asefi did not give any other details about the Al Qaeda detainees. Nor did he say where and when they were arrested.
His comments came a day after Iran said it was holding some Al Qaeda members and interrogating them.
Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif, told ABC's This Week that Iran was trying to determine if Saif al-Adil was among its Al Qaeda detainees.
"Iran is serious in fighting Al Qaeda," Asefi was quoted as saying by the radio Monday.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran had "no intention of sheltering Al Qaeda." He added his government would prosecute any members of Al Qaeda if they are identified as being in the country.
Al Qaeda is led by bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Iranian analysts have said it is extremely unlikely that Iran, a Muslim Shiite country, would support Al Qaeda, which is dominated by the Sunni sect of Islam.
Iranian officials believe the U.S. accusations about Al Qaeda in Iran are designed to pressure Tehran to change some of its foreign policies, such as its opposition to the Middle East peace process.