Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, was killed in Iran in August by Israeli operatives acting at the behest of the United States, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing intelligence officials.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle in Tehran more than three months ago, the US newspaper reported.
The killing of al-Masri, who was seen as a likely successor to al-Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was carried out by the Israeli agents at the behest of the US, four intelligence officials told the Times.
It was unclear what, if any, role the US had in the August 7 killing of the Egyptian-born fighter, the paper added. US authorities had been tracking al-Masri and other al-Qaeda members in Iran for years, it said.
A US official, speaking to Reuters News Agency on condition of anonymity, declined to confirm any of the details in the Times story or say whether there was any US involvement. The White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Al-Masri was killed along with his daughter, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden, the Times reported.
Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who orchestrated the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was killed in a US raid in Pakistan in 2011.
Al-Masri was featured on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist” list, and had been indicted in the US for crimes related to the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 224 people were killed and hundreds wounded.