The US intelligence community has no evidence that al-Qaeda has cooperated with the Iranian government in the recent escalation of tensions in the Gulf, the Daily Beast reported, citing three unnamed sources. The assessment was reportedly delivered by a senior US government official during a classified briefing with members of Congress on Tuesday.
The claim that Iran has ties to the terrorist group was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing when he was asked whether the 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force, issued to allow American troops to fight with entities responsible for the 9/11 attacks and their associated forces included Iran.
“There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda. Period. Full stop. The factual question with respect to Iran’s connections to al-Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al-Qaeda. They have permitted al-Qaeda to transit their country”, Pompeo said at the time.
TIME magazine cited a senior US official as saying that Pompeo’s allegation is an exaggeration that is not corroborated by any evidence of “any grand anti-American alliance”.
A month after that hearing, NBC News’ Jonathan Allen suggested that Trump may not need the approval of Congress to go to war with the Islamic Republic and alleged that administration officials have been drawing links between al-Qaeda and Iran to portray Tehran as a terror threat to the US.
Under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, the US president can green light military action, notifying Congress 48 hours in advance, if military forces remain abroad for no more than 60 days, with a following 30-day withdrawal period. A military action lasting longer than 60 days must be sanctioned by Congress.
The Trump administration has piled pressure on Iran since withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the nuclear deal, last May and reinstating all sanctions against Tehran.
Over the past few weeks tensions have reached a climax, with Washington deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran.
Tehran, meanwhile, announced that it would partially suspend its commitments under the nuclear deal, having set a 60-day deadline for the five remaining signatories of the deal – Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany – to ensure Iranian interests are protected or else the country would resume enriching uranium at higher levels.