CIA creates new body dedicated to Iran operations: report
Saul Loeb (AFP/File)
The Central Intelligence Agency has formed a new entity dedicated solely to intelligence about Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing US officials.
The Iran Mission Center is to bring staff from different parts of the CIA to work together on Iran, much like the new Korea Mission Center announced last month to deal with North Korea, said the report.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is a strident critic of an international deal reached in 2015 to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for guarantees that it will not pursue a nuclear weapons capability.
In interviews and written pieces, Pompeo has pointed to Iran as the primary source of conflict in the Middle East since Tehran's 1979 revolution.
The Iran Mission Center is to be headed by Michael D'Andrea, who was earlier named by the New York Times as the CIA's pick to head operations involving Iran.
Although officially under cover and not acknowledged by the CIA, D'Andrea, a convert to Islam who is around 60 years old, has been a key figure in the fight against Islamic extremists groups.
He was chief of the agency's Counter-Terrorism Center during the 2000s, in which he oversaw the hunt for Al-Qaeda head bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan in 2011.
He also led the Obama administration's controversial "targeted killing" program using drones that left thousands of militants and civilians dead, mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The reports Friday came about two weeks after Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, which served to announce a tougher line against Iran while embracing the Saudis and other Arab allies.
(Staff with AFP)
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