Pompeo Reportedly Meets With Mossad Chief Ahead of Accusing Iran of Al-Qaida Ties

The outgoing secretary of state is set to use recently declassified documents to connect Al-Qaida to Iran in a last-ditch bid to exert maximum pressure on Tehran

Judy Maltz
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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits the White House on an apparent family tour in Washington, U.S. December 11, 2020
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits the White House on an apparent family tour in Washington, U.S. December 11, 2020Credit: JONATHAN ERNST/ REUTERS
Judy Maltz

Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen was seen meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, according to Politico's White House Correspondant Meredith McGraw, amid reports that the outgoing Trump administration was planning to publicly accuse Iran of ties to Al-Qaida.

Pompeo addressed the National Press Club in Washington D.C. at on Tuesday, where he said, without providing hard evidence, that Al-Qaida had established a new home base in Iran and the United States had fewer options in dealing with the group now it was "burrowed inside" that country.

The move represents the latest part of his last-minute offensive against Tehran before handing over to the incoming Biden administration.

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The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office refused to respond to the report.

Sima Shine, the head of the Iran program at Institute for National Security Studies, told Haaretz that the allegations will place a “new burden” on Iran. “This means that the Biden administration needs to think about what it is doing with Iran. On top of everything he has to date – the regional activity and missiles, the human rights – if Pompeo publishes a lot of information, then we will certainly have an interesting story on our hands. After all, in the U.S., Al-Qaida is a red flag,” she added.

With just eight days left in office for President Donald Trump, Pompeo is expected to offer details on allegations that Iran has given safe haven to Al-Qaida leaders and support for the group, the sources told Reuters, despite some skepticism within the intelligence community and Congress.

It was not immediately clear how much Pompeo intends to reveal in his speech. He could cite declassified information on the killing of Al-Qaida's suspected second-in-command in Tehran in August, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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

This comes as Rafael Grossi, the director general of the UN’s atomic watchdog, warned that world powers and Iran have just “weeks” to revive the 2015 nuclear deal after Tehran began to enrich uranium at higher levels and Iran's parliament threatened to curb the access of UN inspectors next month.

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