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Pompeo to accuse Iran of Al-Qaeda links in final offensive against Tehran

Pompeo is expected to accuse Iran of working with Al-Qaeda [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2021

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Pompeo has fired a long list of warnings to Iran, as he sees out his final days as Secretary of State.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to accuse Iran of joining forces with Al-Qaeda, in the latest barrage against the Islamic Republic by Donald Trump's administration.

Pompeo will make a speech in Washington on Tuesday where he will formally allege that the Islamic Republic is working with the Sunni fundamentalist militant group despite their many differences, according to Reuters.

It follows long-standing accusations that Tehran actively cooperates with Al-Qaeda, including providing safe havens for its leaders and other forms of support.

In November, The New York Times revealed that a militant accused of masterminding the bombings of two US embassies in Africa in 1998 was killed in Tehran.

Iran denied that Abu Muhammad Al-Masri was ever in Iran and claimed that no other Al-Qaeda militants were present in the country.

Pompeo is expected to reveal declassified information on this incident in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, unnamed sources told Reuters.

Iran has also been accused of harbouring other leading Al-Qaeda figures, including members of founder Osama bin Laden's family.

But the deep sectarian and political divisions between Iran and Al-Qaeda make it unlikely they have formally joined forces, security analysts have said, and the two remain bitter ideological enemies.

Pompeo has accused Iran and Al-Qaeda of links before, but without offering firm evidence.

"There have been times the Iranians have worked alongside Al-Qaeda," Pompeo said in October 2017 when he served as director of the CIA.

Pompeo has ramped up his attacks on Iran and its regional proxies in recent days, as Democrat Joe Biden prepares to take over the White House on 20 January.

The Secretary of State is expected to designate Iran-linked Yemeni militant group the Houthis as a "terrorist organisation", a move that would have catastrophic consequences for civilians in the country, aid agencies have warned.

Biden will likely ease tensions with Iran in a bid to rekindle a nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran, agreed when he was vice-president in 2015.

Trump's administration withdrew from the deal and enacted harsh sanctions on Tehran, with the two countries coming close to conflict on several occasions, including after the January 2019 killing of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Iran appears to have stepped back from carrying out revenge attacks on the US and its allies, on the one-year anniversary of his death, which some analysts view as a conciliatory message to the new Biden administration.

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