Iran, which last month acknowledged it was holding senior al-Qaida figures, has said it will extradite some of them to “friendly countries.”

Iran's government spokesman Abd Allah Ramazanzadeh told reporters at a news conference that al-Qaida suspects would only be delivered to countries with which Iran had extradition agreements.

“Since last year, identified al-Qaida suspects have been extradited to friendly countries with which we have an agreement for extraditing criminals,” Ramazanzadeh said. “But we do not have such an agreement with America.” 

New York Times 

The New York Times reported Saturday that the US government had approached Tehran, demanding it hand over al-Qaida suspects in Iranian custody.

"We never make deals or act selectively regarding terrorism"

Abd Allah Ramazanzadeh

The Times said Iran responded, saying it would cooperate if the US delivered members of the ant-Iranian People's Mujahideen opposition group, currently under US control in Iraq, in return.

“Iran has never asked for such a swap. We never make deals or act selectively regarding terrorism,” Ramazanzadeh said.

Iran is thought to have detained a number of Usama bin Ladin’s key lieutenants, including Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian thought to be al-Qaida's security chief.
    
Bin Ladin's son

The New York Times also reported unidentified senior US and Middle Eastern officials as saying they believed other al-Qaida figures in Iranian custody include Sa'ad bin Ladin, one of Usama bin Ladin's older sons, and Sulayman Abu Ghaith, an al-Qaida spokesman.
   
"Since the collapse of the Taliban government we have arrested a large number of them," Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said on 23 July.

"Many of them have been expelled but a large number of them are still in our custody - a mixture of big and small members," he added.