Israeli operatives acting at the behest of the U.S. killed Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, accused of masterminding the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, in a drive-by shooting in Tehran, Iran, in August, the New York Times reported, citing intelligence officials.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was brazenly shot down along with his daughter, Maryam, by two motorcyclists in the streets of an upscale neighborhood in the capital.
According to a report by the Associated Press on Sunday, Maryam al-Masri was intentionally killed because the U.S. believed she was being groomed for a leadership role in al-Qaeda and intelligence suggested she was involved in operational planning.
Masri was one of al-Qaeda’s founding leaders and the most likely successor current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the newspaper said.
Jihadists with ties to the al-Qaeda terror network executed a Christian missionary after four years in captivity in the African nation of Mali, Swiss authorities reported. https://t.co/kRqqOwf6ed
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Masri was featured on the F.B.I.’s Most Wanted Terrorist List and had been indicted in the U.S. for crimes related to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people and wounded hundreds more.
According to the report, Al-Qaeda has so far remained mum about his death and Iranian officials have covered it up, on Saturday issuing a flat-out denial, saying there were no al-Qaeda “terrorists” on its soil.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement the U.S. and Israel sometimes “try to tie Iran to such groups by lying and leaking false information to the media in order to avoid responsibility for the criminal activities of this group and other terrorist groups in the region.”
The Trump administration’s “scare-mongering tactic against Iran has become routine,” Khatibzadeh said.
The U.S. and Israel have worked together before on operations inside Iran. The 2012 Stuxnet virus, which was built to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, is largely thought to be the joint efforts of the two allies.
It is also not the first drive-by shooting of its kind. It resembled the same modus operandi as the assassinations, attributed to Israel, of Iranian nuclear scientists, the Times said.
The killing came amid a summer of high tensions in Iran, with multiple, mysterious explosions in key infrastructure sites as well as a July 2 blast at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.