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Updated: Nov 29, 2021


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

January 12, 2021

With less than two weeks left in office, the Trump administration has publicly accused the Iranian regime of having ties with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed the link on Tuesday using recently declassified intelligence material during a speech to the National Press Club in Washington.

This was the first time a US secretary of state had provided evidence of the links between the Tehran regime and Al-Qaeda. The intelligence included information on the assassination of Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Mohammad Al-Masri, in Tehran on Aug. 7 last year.

Al-Masri, who would most likely have succeeded current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, was accused of being involved in the bombings of two US embassies in Africa in 1998.

At first, Iranian authorities attempted to cover up his death, apparently because they would have preferred it not to be known that they have any links to Al-Qaeda. But the theocratic Iranian establishment may well have provided Al-Masri with the resources to carry out his campaigns against the US.

The Trump administration is not only attempting to reveal Iran’s ties to Al-Qaeda, but it is also trying to complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and make it more difficult for his administration to pursue appeasement policies and normalize relations with Tehran.


• 1992-1996 Iranian regime emissary Sheikh Nomani reportedly met Khartoum-based Al-Qaeda leadership under the aegis of Sudan’s National Islamic Front.

• 1996-2000 Secret understanding between Osama bin Laden and Tehran said to facilitate travel for Al-Qaeda leaders through Iran to Afghanistan.

• 1998 Al-Qaeda used Iran/Hezbollah tactics in August to bomb US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 223 people and wounding thousands more.

• 2000 Iran, along with Sudan, accused of liability in October bombing of USS Cole in Yemen by a US federal judge, nearly four years after the loss of 17 sailors in the attack.

• 2001 Allegations of transit of Al-Qaeda members in and out of Afghanistan through Iranian territory in lead-up to Sept. 9 terror attacks backed up by strong evidence provided in subsequent US trial.

• 2001-2004 Al-Qaeda leaders reportedly received safe harbor in Iran after escaping from Tora Bora and other hideouts in Afghanistan that were bombed by US forces in Oct. 2001.

• 2001-2010 Al-Qaeda operatives, including Saif Al-Adel, Saad bin Laden, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullahi and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, took up residence in Iran, ostensibly under “house arrest.”

• 2011 The US formally accused Iran of forging a pact enabling Al-Qaeda to move money, arms and fighters to its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

• 2015 Iran reportedly released five senior Al-Qaeda members as part of a prisoner swap with group’s branch in Yemen, which was holding an Iranian diplomat.

• 2015-2016 The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a tranche of declassified documents shedding light on the relationship between Al-Qaeda and Iran.

• 2018 UN panel of experts suggested that Al-Qaeda leaders in Iran had grown more prominent.

• 2020 Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah reportedly slain in Tehran on Aug. 7 along with his daughter by Israeli agents acting for the US.

• 2021 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces $7 million reward for information on Muhammad Abbatay, aka Abd Al-Rahman Al-Maghrebi, described as Iran-based Al-Qaeda leader.

Biden has indicated that his administration intends to rejoin the nuclear deal and even lift sanctions against Iran.

The Trump administration has invested significant political capital over the last four years imposing sanctions pressure on the Islamic Republic, which has led to the significant weakening of the regime and its economy, as well as a substantial decline in its oil exports.

When it comes to Iran’s deep ties with Al-Qaeda, unfortunately little attention has been given to the subject by mainstream media outlets, politicians and scholars.