The Trump administration is briefing members of Congress of the ties between Iran and al-Qaeda, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of the Department of Defense are making the claims, arguing that the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda goes back as far right after the 9/11 terror attacks.
“There is no doubt there is a connection,” Pompeo said in an April congressional hearing. “Period. Full stop.”
Pompeo also alleged in a June 13 press conference that Iran was behind a suicide bombing earlier in the month in Afghanistan that killed four Americans; the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Times.
The Times report cites various government officials and lawmakers who are skeptical of the Trump administration’s claim and believe that they are laying the foundation for war with Iran under the 2001 authorization use for military force against al-Qaeda in light of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.
“They are looking to bootstrap an argument to allow the president to do what he likes without coming to Congress, and they feel the 2001 authorization will allow them to go to war with Iran,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told the Times.
In September, the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism stated that Iran continues to harbor al-Qaeda terrorists and provides “a core facilitation pipeline” for al-Qaeda to utilize. In 2017, CIA documents stated that Iran and al-Qaeda have had a working relationship since 1991, with Iran providing the Sunni terror group with resources to conduct its terrorism, even allowing al-Qaeda to utilize Hezbollah training camps. The documents also stated that Iran allowed the al-Qaeda members behind the 9/11 terror attacks to have safe passage through Iran and into the United States.