Pompeo calls Iran 'new al-Qaeda hub'

Cristina Maza
·1-min read

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Iran has become the new home base for al-Qaeda and the US will impose sanctions on the Sunni militant group's Iran-based members.

"Tehran gives sanctuary to the terror group's senior leaders as they plan attacks against America and our allies," he said in a statement, calling Iran "the new Afghanistan".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Pompeo's statements as "warmongering lies" in his last days as top diplomat.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC, Pompeo also said two al-Qaeda leaders based in Iran and three people tied to an al-Qaeda-linked Kurdish militant group operating on the border between Iran and Iraq would be designated as terrorists.

Pompeo also confirmed reports that a top al-Qaeda operative, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, who was responsible for deadly attacks on US embassies in Africa in the late 1990s, was killed in Iran in August.

Shi'Ite Iran and Sunni al-Qaeda have been traditional enemies but Pompeo argues that an Iran-and-al-Qaeda nexus has emerged and officials in Tehran are assisting the group's activities by supplying operatives with passports and other travel documents.