One of Al-Qaeda’s top leaders has reportedly been killed in Iran, intelligence officials have claimed.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was gunned down and killed by motorbike riding assassins on August 7.
The high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader was second-in-command of the terrorist organisation and is believed to have been the mastermind behind deadly American embassy bombings in Africa in 1998.
The Egyptian terrorist was aged 57 when he was shot dead in Tehran, Iran, by the two assassins who drove by on a motorbike three months ago.
The New York Times reports that he was shot dead alongside his daughter Maryam – who had been married to Hamza bin Laden; the son of Osama bin Laden.
It is reported that the assassination was carried out “by Israeli operatives at the behest of the United States, according to four of the officials”.
The NY Times report goes on to state that the death has not been announced by Al-Qaeda, claims Iranian officials “covered [the assassinations] up”, and adds that no nation has claimed responsibility for the killings.
Al-Masri had been on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in connection with the bombing of American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 22 years ago.
The attacks killed 224 people and injured hundreds more.
A $10 million (£7.6 million) was offered for information leading to his capture. But reports on Friday suggest his image still features on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
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It is claimed al-Masri had been held in Iranian custody since 2003 – but had been allowed to live freely in the Pasdaran district of Tehran since 2015.
The NY Times reports he had been driving with his daughter at 9pm on August 7 in his white Renault L90 sedan when two men on a motorbike pulled up beside his car, fired five shots, and drove away.
Local Iranian news is said to have reported the deaths as Lebanese history teacher Habib Daoud and his daughter, Maryam, 27.
However, it is suggested “Habib Daoud” never existed and Iranian officials were attempting to cover up the death of al-Masri.
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Yoram Schweitzer, head of the Terrorism Project of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, has said: “When Al -Qaeda began to carry out terrorist activities in the late 1990s, al-Masri was one of the three of Bin Laden’s closest associates, serving as head of the organization’s operations section.
“He brought with him know-how and determination and since then was involved in a large part of the organization’s operations, with an emphasis on Africa.”
He went on to suggest al-Masri may have fled to Iran to limit his risk of extradition to the USA.
Mr Schweitzer said: “They believed the United States would find it very difficult to act against them there.
“Also because they believed that the chances of the Iranian regime doing an exchange deal with the Americans that would include their heads were very slim.”
While Nicholas J. Rasmussen, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, expressed hopes the assassination of al-Masri will help snuff out what remains of Al Qaeda.
He said: “It just further contributes to the fragmentation and decentralization of the Al Qaeda movement.”
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