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Pompeo: Disastrous Afghanistan exit will 'embolden' Iranian regime, 'spark' terrorism

Al Qaeda is "being hosted, protected and operating today from Tehran," said former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Updated: September 21, 2021 - 11:04am

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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning that the Biden administration's handling of the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal will "embolden" the Iranian regime and lead to increased terrorist activity in the Middle East and around the world.

"I'm worried that the situation on the Iranian border in Afghanistan will only strengthen the Iranian regime's hand," Pompeo said Monday at the Organization of Iranian American Communities conference in Washington, D.C.

"The Iranians watched, they watched as the United States projected weakness and chaos as it withdrew from Afghanistan. And we know that the Iranians thrive by weakness. We also know that it always emboldens our adversaries. The truth is that the present administration inherited an orderly plan for a drawdown in Afghanistan." 

He said the Biden administration "ripped up that plan and turned it into a chaotic rush for the exit, and 13 brave Americans paid with their lives. I worry that the same weakness will enable a bloodthirsty Iranian regime to be even more harsh on its own people, people who oppose the regime, and that American weakness will embolden the absence of resistance to spark increased terrorism in the Middle East, and indeed all around the world." 

Pompeo said the headquarters for the terrorist organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda, is in Tehran.

"Al Qaeda International, the headquarters for Al Qaeda's operational leaders that builds up plots across the world is not in Afghanistan," he said. "They're being hosted, protected and operating today from Tehran."

Pompeo argued that "human rights and counterterrorism" should be at the "forefront" of U.S. policy toward Iran as opposed to "appeasement" through another nuclear deal. He called on the Biden administration to continue the Trump administration's sanction campaign against the Iranian regime.

Pompeo said Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi should be prosecuted now for his role in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.

Participants at the conference called on the U.S. to hold Raisi "accountable for the 1988 massacre."

Raisi is reportedly set to address the United Nations via video on Tuesday.