Photo Credit: AFP screengrab / YouTube
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to National Press Club, January 12, 2021

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday that the Islamic Republic of Iran has become a new “home base” for Al-Qaeda, adding that deputies of its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri are currently inside Tehran.

“Al Qaeda has a new home base,” Pompeo said in his speech at the National Press Club in Washington DC. “It is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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“I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan – as the key geographic hub for Al Qaeda – but it’s actually worse,” he said. “Unlike in Afghanistan, when Al Qaeda was hiding in the mountains, Al Qaeda today is operating under the hard shell of the Iranian regime’s protection.”

Pompeo confirmed a New York Times report that Al-Qaeda Number 2 leader Abu Muhammad Al-Masri was killed in Tehran last summer. But he did not say whether Israel carried out the assassination, nor did he say whether the United States ordered the hit.

NYT: Al Qaeda’s No. 2 Killed by Israeli Agents in Iran

Al-Masri was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for his role in the bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which left 200 people dead, including 12 Americans.

“They’re partners in terrorism, partners in hate, Pompeo said. “This axis poses a grave threat to the security of nations and to the American homeland itself.”

He noted that Iran’s ministry of intelligence and security, as well as its other agencies, have provided “safe havens and logistical support” to the international terrorist organization such as ID documents and passports to enable its activities.

“As a result of this assistance,” said Pompeo, “Al Qaeda has centralized its leadership inside Tehran.”

The US Department of State Rewards for Justice program meanwhile is offering up to $10 million for information on Al Qaeda terrorist Yasin Al-Suri, also known as Ezadin Abdel Aziz Khalil, “a senior Al-Qaida facilitator and leader of AQ’s network in Iran.

“Al-Suri oversees movement of experienced Al-Qaida operatives and leaders from Pakistan to Syria, organizing and maintaining routes by which recruits travel to Syria via Turkey, and assisting in the transport of AQ external operatives to the West.

If you have information on Al-Suri, you could be eligible for a reward. Text your information to Rewards for Justice via Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp at 1-202-702-7843.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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