U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of becoming the new “home base” for al-Qaida.
"Al-Qaida has a new home base. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said in a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club. "I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan—as the key geographic hub for al-Qaida—but it's actually worse.”
During the speech, Pompeo also confirmed a New York Times report that al-Qaida’s number two, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed in Tehran last year. Some have speculated Israel carried out the attack, but Pompeo did not confirm that.
Al-Masri is alleged to be the mastermind behind the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
"Al-Masri’s presence inside Iran points to the reason that we're here today ... al-Qaida has a new home base: It is the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said.
Pompeo called for more international pressure on Tehran, saying a partnership between Iran and al-Qaida are a "massive force for evil all over the world."
"Unlike in Afghanistan, when al-Qaida was hiding in the mountains, al-Qaida today is operating under the hard shell of the Iranian regime's protection," Pompeo said.
During the speech, Pompeo announced a $7-million reward for information about Muhammad Abbatay, also known as Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, who Pompeo said was believed to be in Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Pompeo’s statements "fictitious" in a tweet.
Pompeo Accuses Iran of Becoming ‘Home Base’ for al-Qaida
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