Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Abu Muhammad al-Masri was assassinated by the Israeli intelligence in the Iranian capital Tehran three months ago, the New York Times reported on November 14, citing U.S. officials.
Al-Masri, whose real name is Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, is one of the founders of al-Qaeda and thought to be first in line to lead the organization after its current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.
The Egyptian-born terrorist is believed to be behind a series of attacks in Africa, mainly the bombing of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998. More than 200 people were killed in those bombings.
Al-Masri was gunned down by two operatives of the Israeli intelligence in Tehran’s Pasdaran Avenue on August 7, the anniversary of the embassy attacks.
According to the report, the Israeli intelligence operatives, who were riding a motorcycle, approached al-Masri’s white Renault L90, and fired four bullets killing him and his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden. A fifth bullet missed, hitting a nearby vehicle without injuring anyone.
According to the New York Times’ report, the Israeli intelligence carried out the assassination upon a request from the U.S.
American intelligence officials told the New York Times that al-Masri had been in Iran’s “custody” since 2003. However, he had been living freely in the Pasdaran Avenue. These claims remain unverified.
The New York Times claimed that Iran had attempted to hide the assassination by announcing that the August 7 shooting targeted Habib Daoud, a Lebanese Shiite history professor, and his 27-year-old daughter Maryam.
Back then, the UAE-based al-Arabiya TV and Lebanon’s MTV claimed that Daoud was affiliated with Hezbollah. Both channels are aligned with the U.S. and not Iran, which raises some doubts on the New York Times’ report.
The New York Times report came amid rumors of al-Zawahiri death. Telegram channels linked to al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Horas al-Din, alleged this week that the leader had died after a “struggle with illness.”
Al-Qaeda has not yet released any statement clarifying the fates of al-Masri and al-Zawahiri. The death of any of them will be a heavy blow to the terrorist group.
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