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Mike Pompeo claims with out proof that Iran is al-Qaida’s new ‘house base’

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has claimed, with out offering proof, that al-Qaida leaders have established a brand new “house base” within the Iran, in what seemed to be his newest effort to boost the political value of the following administration reviving the 2015 nuclear cope with Tehran.

Talking with simply eight days left in workplace, Pompeo alleged that Iran was “the brand new Afghanistan”, telling a information convention in Washington: “In contrast to in Afghanistan, when al-Qaida was hiding within the mountains, al-Qaida at the moment is working beneath the exhausting shell of the Iranian regime’s safety.”

In remarks to the Nationwide Press Membership, after which he didn’t take questions, the outgoing secretary of state additionally confirmed press stories {that a} senior al-Qaida determine, Abu Mohammed al-Masri, was assassinated final August in Tehran, the place he was mentioned to be dwelling beneath a false id.

Masri, who was accused of serving to to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, was reported to have been shot in his automotive together with his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza. Pompeo’s remarks have been the primary on-the-record feedback supporting the declare.

Most consultants on the topic say that Iran does have a relationship with al-Qaida however it’s a sophisticated one. It has harboured some senior members of the organisation, probably as insurance coverage towards direct assault by the terrorist group, however fought towards it elsewhere.

Iran’s overseas minister instantly dismissed the allegations as “warmongering lies”, mentioning to the Trump administrations shut ties to Saudi Arabia, the house nation of most the 9/11 terrorists.

“Nobody is fooled,” tweeted Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“All 9/11 terrorists got here from @SecPompeo’s favourite (Center East) locations,” he added. “NONE from Iran.”

Advisers to Joe Biden imagine the Trump administration is making an attempt to make it more durable for the president-elect to re-engage with Iran and search to rejoin a world deal on Iran’s nuclear program as soon as he takes workplace on 20 January. Donald Trump withdrew from the settlement in 2018 and since then has sought to destroy it altogether by imposing new sanctions.

The opposite 5 main energy signatories have up to now refused to desert the deal, though Iran has ramped up its nuclear actions in violation of the settlement, in response to US sanctions.

In making an attempt to dam the Biden administration rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal, the outgoing Trump workforce has an ally within the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. In response to a Politico reporter, the night earlier than his Iran speech, Pompeo was seen out for dinner in a Georgetown restaurant with the top of Mossad, Yossi Cohen.

“It might be a stretch, nonetheless, to say as Pompeo did that al-Qaida has discovered a ‘new house base’ in Iran, because it’s probably not ‘new’, neither is it actually a ‘house base’ which stays the Afghanistan/Pakistan border areas,” mentioned Peter Bergen, an al-Qaida skilled on the New America thinktank.

“After 9/11 various leaders of al-Qaida and fairly just a few members of Bin Laden’s household moved to Iran. There they spent a decade beneath numerous types of home arrest,” Bergen mentioned.

“After al-Qaida kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in Pakistan in 2008, the Iranians and al-Qaida began quietly negotiating a prisoner swap that concerned releasing members of the Bin Laden household and in addition some members of al-Qaida and in 2010 various these have been launched. Some stayed on although it’s unclear who, since some could have moved to Syria or elsewhere.

“So, earlier than 2010 Iran housed Bin Laden’s members of the family and different al-Qaida leaders. After 2010 that quantity went down considerably,” Bergen mentioned.

Daniel Byman, a professor and al-Qaida skilled at Georgetown College mentioned that it was unimaginable to say with out entry to intelligence stories the extent to which al-Qaida members in Iran have freedom to function, however he described the Afghanistan comparability as “very deceptive”.

“In Afghanistan within the Nineteen Nineties, you had coaching camps that have been coaching hundreds of individuals to combat in civil wars, but in addition as terrorists. You had volunteers coming from all over the world, together with the USA and Europe,” Byman mentioned. “In Iran you don’t have these huge coaching camps and that’s an enormous distinction.”

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