“Al-Qaeda has a new home base, it is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a speech at the National Press Club. “As a result, bin Laden’s wicked creation is poised to gain strength and capabilities.”
Pompeo also announced new sanctions on Iran, because of its association with al-Qaeda leaders, and a reward of up to $7 million under the State Department for information that brings al-Qaeda top leader Muhammad Abbatay to justice. He urged United Nations members and all countries to sanction Iran, citing the UN Security Council Resolution 1267.
“We ignore this Iran, Al Qaeda Nexus at our own peril. We need to acknowledge it, we must confront it. Indeed, we must defeat it,” he said, adding that he was aware that this news might come up as a surprise to many Americans.
Pompeo stated that through American and NATO efforts, al-Qaeda is much smaller in numbers than it was after the September 11, 2001, attacks. He stated further that as the terrorist group was decimated, they needed to look for a safe haven, and that Iran was the “perfect choice.”
Terrorists belonging to Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab terror group stand in formation during a show of force in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 21, 2010. (AFP/Getty Images)
He then gave some background on the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda.
“In the early 90s, al-Qaeda operatives traveled to Iran in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, the heartland of Hezbollah, for explosives training,” Pompeo said.
“In the period before 911, the Iranian regime told border inspectors not to stamp al-Qaeda member’s passports when they entered or left Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan. This was to help them avoid suspicion when they returned to their home countries.”
He said that in 2011, a New York federal judge ruled that Iran had “provided support for the 911 attacks based on the role it played in furthering al-Qaeda operatives plans.”
“Let’s not lie to the American people about Iranian moderation and pretend appeasement will work. Thirty years of cooperation shows that Iran and al-Qaeda is divergent theology is no match for its convergent hatred. That’s the reality.” Pompeo said.