Mike Pompeo claims Iran is new home of al-Qaida | DW

Clay Curtis
January 13, 2021

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed the accusations as "warmongering lies".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan. For Biden, "the optics are quite hard to justify giving in to the Islamic Republic and giving in to pressure tactics, particularly in light of the past criticism of the deal", he said.

The claims have been largely rejected by security analysts, who say the deep political divisions between the two have made them embittered enemies. "Unless you are forced to", the letter read, as quoted by Pompeo.

Pompeo's claims come on the back of a New York Times report that a top al-Qaida leader, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, had been killed in Iran by Israeli operatives in August 2020.

Pompeo said that in 2015, Iran and al-Qaeda struck a deal which saw Tehran provide the terrorist group with a safe haven in exchange for its members reporting to Iranian secret services.

The majority of the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks in NY came from US-ally Saudi Arabia. "From time to time, Iran's foes-the United States and Israel-try to shirk responsibility for the criminal acts of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the region and link Iran to such outfits by lying and leaking false information to the media", Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in November.

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Many experts believe that Tehran has allowed Al-Qaeda operatives to use its territory - comparatively safe from the USA military - to provide guarantees that the extremists will not target Iran.

Pompeo himself has previously made the allegations as well, without offering concrete evidence.

The Trump administration has taken a "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran that has seen the USA withdrawing from the 2015 Iran deal and reimposing sanctions.

In October 2017, when serving as Central Intelligence Agency director, Pompeo said that "there have been times the Iranians have worked alongside al-Qaeda".

Anne Harrington, a specialist in nuclear proliferation issues at Cardiff University in Wales, told CNBC on Tuesday that Iran's intentions are meant to pressure the incoming Biden administration into rejoining the JCPOA rather than renegotiating its terms.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for relief from US and other sanctions.

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