CIA: Qaeda-Iran Connection an 'Open Secret'

 Central Intelligence Agency Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic
Central Intelligence Agency Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic
TT

CIA: Qaeda-Iran Connection an 'Open Secret'

 Central Intelligence Agency Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic
Central Intelligence Agency Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic

CIA director Mike Pompeo described the connection between Iran and al-Qaeda as an “open secret”, a relationship that he and others criticized the Obama White House for downplaying.

“It’s an open secret and not classified information that there have been relationships, there are connections,” Pompeo said during an event held by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “There have been times the Iranians have worked alongside Qaeda,” he added.

Pompeo said that that cooperation sometimes occurs because the two view the West as a common enemy.

“They’ve cut deals so as not to come after each other, that is, they view the West as a greater threat than the fight between the two along their ideological lines,” he said.

He added that the intelligence community is still monitoring those ties, especially given the complexity of the situation in Syria.

“With the defeat of the real estate proposition in Syria and Iraq for ISIS, we watch what’s going on in Idlib, you’ve got ISIS folks, al-Nusra front, Qaeda folks up in the North,” he said, “we are watching to see if there aren’t places where they work together for a common threat against the United States.”

He added, “It's not only the case that the Iranian regime knew that Qaeda operatives were working in Iran, there was an agreement that explicitly permitted it. And it's not only the case that the Qaeda operatives had the ability to transit Iran, the Iranian regime facilitated that transit. The coordination with Iran came as a result of a secret agreement and included active assistance to Qaeda members.”

Pompeo said that the CIA would release more of those documents in coming days. Obama’s former national security adviser Tom Donilon has described the quantity of intelligence captured in that raid as enough to fill a “small college library.”



Israeli Polls Show Netanyahu Party Narrowing Gap Behind Gantz 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)
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Israeli Polls Show Netanyahu Party Narrowing Gap Behind Gantz 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right wing Likud party has reduced the gap behind the centrist party of former minister Benny Gantz, who quit the wartime unity government on Sunday, two polls showed on Friday.

The polls, for the left wing Ma'ariv daily and the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper, showed Likud winning 21 seats behind the National Unity Party on 24. The Ma'ariv poll last week showed Gantz's party on 27 seats, while at the start of the year, it was regularly polling in the high 30s.

The Ma'ariv poll shows the current ruling coalition winning 52 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, against 58 for the main opposition parties, with the balance of 10 seats held by the United Arab List and the left-wing Hadash-Ta'al alliance.

The Israel Hayom poll put the coalition on 50 seats against 61 for the opposition parties and 9 for the UAL and Hadash-Ta'al.

Both polls showed a majority of voters would prefer Gantz as prime minister in a head-to-head choice with Netanyahu. However, the Israel Hayom poll showed that if former prime minister Naftali Bennett were to join forces with Avigdor Liberman and Gideon Saar, two other center right politicians from outside the Likud camp, their alliance could beat both Likud and Gantz's National Unity Party.

Gantz, a former army general and defense minister in the last government, joined Netanyahu's coalition last year as a gesture of national unity following the devastating attack by Hamas on Oct 7.

However, he clashed repeatedly with other ministers and quit the government after demanding Netanyahu articulate a clear strategic plan for the war in Gaza, now in its ninth month.

Netanyahu, who was widely blamed for the security failures that allowed the Oct. 7 attack to take place, has refused to call early elections and would not normally face voters until 2026 if his coalition with a clutch of religious and right-wing pro-settler parties holds.