Pompeo to accuse Iran of al Qaeda links -sources

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to use newly disclassified intelligence to publicly accuse Iran of having ties to al Qaeda on Tuesday. That's according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The Trump administration in recent weeks has increased pressure on Tehran as part of a last minute offensive before leaving office.

With just eight days left until President-elect Joe Biden is inagurated, sources say Pompeo is expected to offer newly declassified US intelligence that offers details on allegations that Iran has given safe haven to al Qaeda leaders and support for the group.

That's despite some skepticism within the intelligence community and Congress.

Pompeo has accused Iran of links to al Qaeda in the past, but has yet to provide solid evidence.

Sources say that it's unclear how much Pompeo will reveal in his speech to the National Press Club in Washington.

He may cite declassified material on the August killing of al Qaeda's suspected second-in-command when Abu Muhammad al-Masri was gunned down in Tehran by Israeli operatives.

The New York Times has reported that Al-Masri, accused of helping to mastermind the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, was gunned down by Israeli operatives in Iran, but Iran denied al-Masri's assassination saying there were no al Qaeda 'terrorists' on its soil.

In 2001, former President George W. Bush accused Iran of links to al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks, but those claims have since been discredited.

Since taking office, Trump has continued to impose sanctions on Iran in an effort to force Tehran to negotiate a broader nuclear deal, but it has failed to bring them back to the table.

U.S. officials say that more sanctions on Iran are expected before Trump leaves office, which Biden's advisers believe is an effort to make it harder for him to re-engage with Iran.