Pompeo claims Al-Qaeda terrorist group has new home base in Iran
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed, without providing any hard evidence, that the Islamic terrorist organization Al-Qaeda has established a new base in Iran.
“We must acknowledge it, we must confront it… we must defeat it,” Pompeo said during a press event on Tuesday held specifically to make the bold announcement.
“We ignore this Iran-Al-Qaeda nexus at our own peril,” he added.
Pompeo acknowledged that, to many Americans, the alleged development may come as a “surprise,” as the US military and foreign intelligence have been on the offensive against the group since the September 11 terror attacks in 2001. However, according to the official, it was this relentless US pursuit that drove Al-Qaeda into a “safer heaven” – namely, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The state secretary called Iran the “perfect choice” for the terrorists’ supposed new hideout, adding that some Al-Qaeda operatives have had decades-long connections inside the country.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to Pompeo’s “fictitious” claims by accusing him of propagating “warmongering lies.”
Pompeo also announced the killing of Al-Qaeda’s “second in command,” Abu Muhammad al-Masri, on August 7 last year at the behest of the US government. Al-Masri’s having been in Iran at the time of his death appears to be the main basis of the US State Department’s assertion about a connection between the group and Iran.
He called for an end to the diplomatic “appeasement” of the Iran government, and announced the deployment of sanctions on several “Iran-based al-Qaeda leaders,” as well as a $7 million reward for information about the whereabouts of one of the extremists.
During his tenure in Trump’s administration, former CIA chief Pompeo has maintained a hard line on Iran, including enacting a sweeping sanctions policy that has ravaged its economy.
The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden is widely expected to hail the return of a more diplomatic approach to US-Iranian relations. Biden was part of the Obama administration that brokered the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. Trump pulled the US out of that agreement in 2018.