WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday accused Iran of ties to terrorist group al-Qaeda, doubling down the maximum pressure campaign against Iran before leaving office in less than ten days.
In his remarks at the National Press Club, Pompeo confirmed that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, the second-ranking leader of al-Qaeda, had been killed in August last year, without giving further details of the operation.
Pompeo alleged that Iran had become a "new home base" for al-Qaeda, and he announced designations of two Iran-based al-Qaeda leaders and three leaders of al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions.
The outgoing state secretary did not take any questions after his remarks.
Iran immediately refuted Pompeo's allegation. "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," tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
"No one is fooled. All 9/11 terrorists came from @SecPompeo's favorite ME destinations; NONE from Iran," he added.
The New York Times reported last November that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, accused of being one of the masterminds of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, was killed by Israeli agents in Tehran on Aug. 7.
U.S. analysts in recent studies found no evidence of cooperation between the Shiite Iran and al-Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim militant organization, on planning terrorist acts.
The relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated since May 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions against Iran. In response, Tehran has gradually dropped some of its JCPOA commitments since May 2019.