US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, without providing hard evidence, that al-Qaeda had established a new home base in Iran and the United States had fewer options in dealing with the group now it was “burrowed inside” that country. With just eight days left in office for President Donald Trump, Pompeo alleged that Iran has given safe haven to al-Qaeda leaders and support for the group, despite some scepticism within theAbu Muhammad al-Masri intelligence community and Congress. The New York Times reported in November that al-Qaeda’s Abu Muhammad al-Masri, accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, was gunned down by Israeli operatives in Iran. Iran denied the report, saying there were no al-Qaeda “terrorists” on its soil. Pompeo told a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington that he was announcing publicly for the first time that al-Masri died on August 7 last year. 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. No one is fooled. All 9/11 terrorists came from @SecPompeo 's favorite ME destinations; NONE from Iran. — Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 12, 2021 Pompeo said his presence in Iran was no surprise, and added: “Al-Masri’s presence inside Iran points to the reason that we’re here today … al-Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” On Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed Pompeo’s accusations as “warmongering lies”. US designates Yemen’s Iranian-linked Houthi rebels as terrorists Iran has been a target throughout the Trump administration and Pompeo has sought to further ratchet up pressure on Iran in recent weeks with more sanctions and heated rhetoric. Advisers to President-elect Joe Biden believe the Trump administration is trying to make it harder for him to re-engage with Iran and seek to rejoin an international deal on Iran’s nuclear programme once he takes office on January 20. Pompeo added that he was imposing sanctions on Iran-based al-Qaeda leaders and three leaders of al-Qaeda Kurdish battalions. He also announced a reward of up to US$7 million for information leading to location or identification of Iran-based al-Qaeda leader Muhammad Abbatay – also known as Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi. Pompeo has accused Iran of links to al-Qaeda in the past but has not provided concrete evidence. Earlier accusations by the George W. Bush administration of Iranian links to al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on the United States have been discredited. But reports have surfaced over the years of al-Qaeda operatives hiding out in Iran. A former senior US intelligence official with direct knowledge of the issue said the Iranians were never friendly with al-Qaeda before or after the 9/11 attacks and any claims of current cooperation should be viewed warily. Shiite Iran and al-Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim group, have long been sectarian foes. Relations between Tehran and Washington have deteriorated since 2018 when Trump abandoned Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which imposed strict curbs on its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.