Pompeo says Al Qaeda has new home base in Iran

Washington - Iran has said there were no Al Qaeda 'terrorists' on its soil.

By Reuters

Published: Tue 12 Jan 2021, 7:58 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Jan 2021, 8:15 PM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, without providing hard evidence, that Al Qaeda had established a new home base in Iran.

The New York Times reported in November that al Qaeda's Abu Muhammad Al Masri, accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, was gunned down by Israeli operatives in Iran. Iran denied the report, saying there were no Al Qaeda "terrorists" on its soil.

Pompeo told a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington that he was announcing publicly for the first time that Al Masri died on August 7 last year.

Pompeo said his presence in Iran was no surprise, and added:

"Al Masri’s presence inside Iran points to the reason that we're here today ... Al-Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran."

On Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed Pompeo's accusations as "warmongering lies."

Iran has been a target throughout the Trump administration and Pompeo has sought to further ratchet up pressure on Iran in recent weeks with more sanctions and heated rhetoric.

Advisers to President-elect Joe Biden believe the Trump administration is trying to make it harder for him to re-engage with Iran and seek to rejoin an international deal on Iran's nuclear program once he takes office on January 20.

Pompeo added that he was imposing sanctions on Iran-based al-Qaeda leaders and three leaders of Al Qaeda Kurdish battalions.

He also announced a reward of up to $7 million under for information leading to location or identification of Iran based al Qaeda leader Muhammad Abbatay -- also known as Abd Al Rahman Al Maghrebi.

Pompeo has accused Iran of links to al Qaeda in the past but has not provided concrete evidence.

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