Fox News Correspondent Calls Mike Pompeo's Comments On Iran's Involvement In Afghanistan 'Baffling And An Exaggeration At Best'

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin said Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's attempts to tie the proxy actions of Iran to the Pakistan-based Haqqani insurgent network were "baffling."

Pompeo gave his comments about the Haqqani network at a press briefing Tuesday, in which he took questions from reporters.

"In Afghanistan, there's an aspect of that conflict that deserves more attention and that is the Islamic Republic of Iran's involvement there," Pompeo said. "Iran has refused to join the regional and international consensus for peace and is in fact actively working today to undermine the peace process by continuing its long global effort to support militant groups there."

"Most people know about Iran's proxy networks in the Arab world, but the regime also has a relationship with the Taliban and related groups such as the Haqqanis, the Tora Bora, and the Mullah Dadullah group. The Taliban's entanglement in Iran's dirty work will only harm the Afghanistan peace process."

Griffin said that Pompeo's comments were "baffling and an exaggeration at best given that Pakistan is well known to be the main force backing the Haqqani network."

mike pompeo
At a Tuesday press briefing, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran had connections to terrorist groups in Afghanistan including the Haqqani network, which Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin said is based in Pakistan. Mark Wilson/Getty

Based in Pakistan, the Haqqani network has worked together with the Taliban in Afghanistan. A Sunni Islamist militia group, the Haqqanis conducted suicide bombings against the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. Because of its ties to both al-Qaida and the Taliban, the U.S. placed the Haqqani network on its list of designated foreign terrorist organizations in 2012.

In 2018, the Trump administration stopped sending military aid to Pakistan because of its failure to stem the activity of terror groups such as the Haqqani network.

At the time, President Donald Trump tweeted, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018

Newsweek reached out to the State Department for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Pompeo was also asked during Tuesday's press briefing to clarify the intelligence seen by President Trump that led to the drone strike that terminated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani at an airport in Baghdad, Iraq. Iran has sworn vengeance against the U.S. for Soleimani's killing, increasing military tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

"We gave [Trump] all the best information that came out not only from the intelligence community but from those of us who have teams in the field," Pompeo said. "We evaluated the relevant risks and the opportunity that we thought might present itself at some point and we could see clearly that not only had Soleimani done all of the things that we had recounted, hundreds of thousands, a massacre in Syria, enormous destruction of countries like Lebanon and Iraq where they've denied them sovereignty and the Iranians have really denied people in those two countries what it is they want. Sovereignty, independence and freedom. This was all Soleimani's handiwork."