Neocon Mike Pompeo Continues Spreading Iran-Al Qaeda Connection Myth

In the latest attempt to beat the war drums against Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, al-Qaeda’s No.2 leader, was killed in Iran this past summer.

The Secretary of State did not confirm U.S. involvement in his assassination. “Today, I can confirm for the first time his death on August 7th of last year,” Pompeo declared on January 12, 2020 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Back in November, The New York Times reported that Israeli agents “gunned down” al-Masri at the request of the United States government. Al-Masri was on the FBI’s “Most Wanted List” for the role he played in the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. These attacks claimed the lives of 200 people, including 12 Americans. 

Pompeo confirmed al-Masri’s death in a speech in which he accused Iran of being a new “home base” for al-Qaeda, despite providing no hard evidence for such claims.

“Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan, as the key geographic hub for al-Qaeda,” Pompeo declared. “They’re partners in terrorism, partners in hate. This axis poses a grave threat to the security of nations and to the American homeland itself.”

Iran has been a major point of contention for U.S. foreign policy since 1979, the year Islamic fundamentalists toppled the Shah and turned the country into an Islamic Republic. 

The Obama administration made an attempt in diplomacy with the Middle Eastern country through his 2015 nuclear deal. However, thanks to the pro-Zionist bent of the Trump administration, the U.S. ended up withdrawing from the deal in 2018. The Biden administration seeks to re-enter this arrangement 

A USA Today report noted that Pompeo took subtle shots at the Biden administration’s attempts to use diplomatic engagement with Iran. “Let’s not lie to the American people about Iranian moderation and pretend the appeasement will work,” he declared.  

Pompeo asserted that Iran’s ministry of intelligence and security and other agencies have allegedly supplied “safe havens and logistical support” to Al-Qaeda members. These included ID cards and passports which helped facilitate al-Qaeda activity. “As a result of this assistance, al-Qaeda has centralized its leadership inside Tehran,” he commented.

Several Iran experts do not agree with Pompeo’s allegations.

“It’s just not believable at this point,” declared Trita Parsi, a specialist on Iran expert and the executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. The Quincy Institute is a new think tank known for pushing foreign policy views that emphasize restraint and realism. “This is an administration that is doing everything it can to create conflict inside of the U.S., and now it’s doing everything it can to make sure that no diplomacy can take place between the U.S. and Iran after it leaves.”

Parsi described Pompeo’s claims as “complete nonsense” and questioned why the Secretary of State waited until the final days of the Trump administration to make such brash allegations.

Alireza Miryousefi, an Iranian diplomat connected to Tehran’s mission to the United Nations in New York, asserted that the State Department’s claims are “preposterous,” “false” and “nothing new.” 

The Iranian government has maintained for a while that Saudi nationals and individuals connected to the Saudi monarchy are al-Qaeda’s principal backers in the Middle East.

Max Abrahms, a terrorism expert and professor at Northeastern University, called attention to the fact that al-Qaeda is mainly connected with Saudi Arabia, not Iran. One of the hallmarks of Trump’s foreign policy is his focus on strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia and becoming more hawkish on Iran. The Trump administration helped facilitate the creation of a Gulf Arab + Israel balancing coalition against Iran.

In a tweet following Pompeo’s speech, Abrahms confirmed that Iran has had “some shady ties with Al Qaeda. We have known this for many, many years.”

But, he added, “if you’re looking to Iran rather than Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar & Pakistan to understand state sponsorship of Al Qaeda then you have been duped and lost the plot.”

Pompeo’s latest allegations represent a Boomer/neoconservative fetish with Iran. Let’s face it, the Middle Eastern country poses no real threat to the U.S. and will likely be contained by Israel and the new coalition of Arab Gulf states bound together by their fears of Iranian overreach.

Let those countries contain Iran. No American blood or treasure should be sacrificed in this kind of endeavor.