(NEW YORK) -- Iran's leaders appear conflicted about their relationship with al Qaeda even as both are sworn enemies of the U.S. and Israel.
Washington officials believe that Iran's decision to expel Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is further proof of the changing attitude about the theocratic government's loose connection to the terrorist organization. Other al Qaeda officials who've sought refuge in Iran have also been given the boot.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and adviser on counterterrorism to the Obama administration, calls it "a partnership of convenience, with some really rough edges."
Simply put, while Tehran permits al Qaeda militants to use its country as a way to move to other hot spots in the region, Shiite-dominated Iran has fundamental differences with the group's philosophy, particularly since al Qaeda is a Sunni organization.
What's more, Iran supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his effort to hold onto power while al Qaeda sides with Sunni fighters attempting to oust the regime.
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