Reuters quoted two informed sources as saying that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends to use recently declassified intelligence information to publicly accuse Iran of having links with Al Qaeda.
The sources said Pompeo would provide details on Tuesday about Iran’s allegations of providing safe haven for al Qaeda leaders and its support, despite suspicions in the intelligence community and Congress.
The two sources indicated that this step comes within the framework of the Trump administration’s last-minute move against Iran, before handing over power to President-elect Joe Biden.
It was not immediately clear what Pompeo intended to reveal in his speech to the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday. The two sources, who requested anonymity, said that he may cite declassified information about the killing of the second man in Al Qaeda in Tehran in August.
The New York Times reported in November that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, accused of helping orchestrating the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, was killed by Israeli agents in Iran. Iran denied the report, saying that “there are no Al Qaeda terrorists on its soil.”
Iran was a target during the Trump administration, and Pompeo has sought to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic in recent weeks with more sanctions.
Advisers to President-elect Joe Biden believe the Trump administration is trying to make it difficult for him to re-engage with Iran and accede to an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
Since the beginning of his administration, Trump has imposed sanctions on Iranian officials, politicians and companies, in an attempt to force Tehran to negotiate a broader agreement that would further restrict its nuclear activities.
US officials say more sanctions are expected before Trump leaves office.
Although the sanctions resulted in a sharp drop in Iranian oil exports and increased economic hardship for Iranian citizens, they failed to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.
Biden said the United States would re-join the nuclear deal “if Iran resumes strict compliance.”