By Humeyra Pamuk and Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to make use of not too long ago declassified US intelligence on Tuesday to publicly accuse Iran of hyperlinks to al Qaeda, two folks conversant in the matter mentioned as a part of the of its last-minute offensive towards Tehran earlier than handing it over to the brand new Biden administration.
With simply eight days of President Donald Trump’s tenure, Pompeo is anticipated to supply particulars of allegations that Iran has given al-Qaeda leaders protected haven and assist for the group, the sources mentioned, regardless of some skepticism on the inside the intelligence neighborhood and Congress.
It was not instantly clear what Pompeo meant to disclose in his speech to the Nationwide Press Membership in Washington on Tuesday. He may cite declassified details about the homicide of Al Qaeda’s second-in-command in Tehran in August, the sources mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity.
The New York Instances reported in November that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, accused of serving to to arrange the 1998 assaults on two US embassies in Africa, was shot useless by Israeli brokers in Iran. Iran has denied the report, saying there aren’t any Al Qaeda “terrorists” on its soil.
Iran has been a goal all through the Trump administration, and Pompeo has sought to additional improve the stress on Iran in latest weeks with extra sanctions and fiery rhetoric.
Advisors to President-elect Joe Biden say the Trump administration is making an attempt to make it more durable for him to re-engage with Iran and search to hitch a world deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
Pompeo has accused Iran of hyperlinks to Al Qaeda previously however has not supplied concrete proof.
“There have been instances when the Iranians labored alongside Al Qaeda,” Pompeo, then CIA director, mentioned in October 2017.
Earlier accusations by the George W. Bush administration of Iranian hyperlinks to the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda assaults on the US have been discredited. However reviews have surfaced through the years that Al Qaeda operatives had been in hiding in Iran.
A former senior US intelligence official with first-hand data of the problem mentioned the Iranians had been by no means pals with Al Qaeda earlier than or after the 9/11 assaults and that any allegation of present cooperation needs to be seen with warning.
Shia Iran and al-Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim militant group, have lengthy been sectarian enemies.
Relations between Tehran and Washington have deteriorated since 2018, when Trump deserted the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which imposed strict restrictions on its nuclear actions in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Since beginning his administration, Trump has imposed sanctions on Iranian officers, politicians and companies in an try to power Tehran to barter a broader deal that additional limits its nuclear work.
And extra sanctions are anticipated earlier than Trump leaves workplace, US officers have mentioned.
Whereas the sanctions have sharply diminished Tehran’s oil exports and elevated financial hardship for strange Iranians, they’ve did not convey Iran again to the negotiating desk.
Biden mentioned the US would be part of the nuclear deal “if Iran resumes strict compliance.” (Further reporting by Mark Hosenball, modifying by Rosalba O’Brien)