Iran Toughens Rhetoric as Biden Looks to Salvage Nuclear Talks

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2021

Still, reports have surfaced over the years of al-Qaeda operatives hiding out in Iran. "It is the Islamic Republic of Iran", Pompeo said in a speech at the National Press Club.

"Iran made a decision to allow al-Qaeda to establish a new operational headquarters on the condition that al-Qaeda operatives abide by the regime's rules governing al-Qaeda's stay inside of the country", he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly planning to accuse Iran of links to Al Qaeda in a speech Tuesday, an allegation critics described as a rehashing of a Bush administration lie that served as part of the rationale for the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Pompeo used the speech to confirm that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, described as Al Qaeda's number-two leader, had been killed in Iran past year. Iran denied the report, saying there were no al Qaeda "terrorists" on its soil.

Mr Biden said he wants to return to some form of the 2015 deal.

Reuters reported late Monday that Pompeo-a warhawk and an architect of the Trump administration's so-called "maximum pressure" strategy-"plans to use newly declassified US intelligence on Tuesday to publicly accuse Iran of ties to Al Qaeda, two people familiar with the matter said, as part of his last-minute offensive against Tehran before handing over to the incoming Biden administration".

He said such an arrangement provides a terror threat in the region and elsewhere and could threaten the Abraham Accords - peace agreements between Israel and nearby Arab countries - by allowing Al Qaeda to blackmail them.

Iran, a Shiite clerical state, is ideologically opposed both to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, extreme Sunni movements that are predominantly Arab, and has fought on fronts overseas against both.

However, the unsubstantiated claims were immediately shot down by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who accused Pompeo via Twitter of spreading "more warmongering lies".

Shi'ite Iran and al Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim group, have always been sectarian foes.

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

"No one is fooled. All 9/11 terrorists came from [Pompeo's] favorite [Middle East] destinations; none from Iran".

The administration of United States President Donald Trump previous year attempted to trigger the mechanism, but the move was rejected, as the USA had unilaterally withdrawn from the nuclear deal in 2018.

The incoming Biden administration is looking to reenter the JCPOA.

Other reports by iNewsToday