Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday for the first time confirmed the death of Al Qaeda’s number two, who in August was gunned down on a street in Iran’s capital Tehran, and claimed that the country is allowing the terrorist group to operate there.
On November 14, The New York Times reported that Israeli agents carried out August 7 assassination of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, for the United States. He sat on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list and had been indicted for U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Iran denied that the Al Qaeda leader was killed in Tehran, saying there wasn’t “any presence” of the terrorist group’s operatives in their country.
It was at the beginning of his Tuesday speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. that Pompeo publicly confirmed the death of Abdullah, however, he didn’t say who was behind the assassination.
“Today, I can confirm for the first time his death on August 7th of last year,” the top U.S. diplomat said.
Pompeo then pointed to Abdullah’s presence in Iran as indication of a wider Al Qaeda presence in the country.
“Al Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he claimed. “We ignore this Iran-Al Qaeda nexus at our own peril.”
The secretary of state also said the U.S. now believes Iran is shielding Al Qaeda by giving the group more freedom of movement and letting it establish an operational headquarters. He said this has given the group new time and resources to fundraise and plan new attacks.
“Al-Qaeda now has time, because they’re inside Iran they have money,” Pompeo asserted. “They now have new tools for terror.”
“Iran decided to allow al Qaeda to establish a new operational headquarters, on the condition that Al Qaeda operatives inside abide by the regime’s rules governing Al Qaeda’s stay inside the country,” Pompeo also claimed.
He alleged that the country’s ministry of intelligence and security as well as other agencies have supplied “safe havens and logistical support,” such as ID cards and passports, that facilitate Al Qaeda activity. “As a result of this assistance, Al Qaeda has centralized its leadership inside Tehran,” he said.
In response to Pompeo’s remarks, Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif denied the claims the top U.S. diplomat made.
“From designating Cuba to fictitious Iran ‘declassifications’ and AQ claims, Mr. ‘we lie, cheat, steal’ is pathetically ending his disastrous career with more warmongering lies,” Zarif tweeted Tuesday.
“No one is fooled. All 9/11 terrorists came from @SecPompeo’s favorite ME destinations; NONE from Iran,” the foreign minister also claimed.
Pompeo’s speech comes about a week before President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office. The departing Secretary of State and others in the Trump administration have vocalized their opposition to Biden’s plans to reenter nuclear talks with Iran.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Mental health crisis spikes among Afghan women after Taliban regained control two years ago
The women of Afghanistan are suffering a mental health crisis since the Taliban regained power two years ago. According to a joint report from three U.N. agencies released Tuesday, approximately 70% of women experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.
The numbers continue to rise, as there has already been a significant jump between April and June of this year alone, with an increase from 57% the preceding quarter.
The report, conducted by U.N. Women, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, interviewed women online, in-person and in group consultations as well as individual telesurveys.
592 Afghan women in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces took part in the study. The Associated Press reports:
They have barred women from most areas of public life and work and banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade. They have prohibited Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations. The ban was extended to employees of the United Nations in April.
Opportunities to study continued to shrink as community-based education by international organizations was banned and home-based schooling initiatives were regularly shut down by the de facto authorities — a term use by the U.N. for the Taliban government.
Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education and the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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