November 15, 2020 Faith Matters

US and Israel worked to track and kill al Qaida’s second in command

A senior al Qaida operative was killed in Iran earlier this year by Israeli agents supported by US intelligence.

Abu Mohammed al-Masri was killed by assassins in Tehran during a period in which the Trump administration was ramping up pressure on Iran.

He was killed on August 7, the anniversary of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Al-Masri was widely believed to have participated in the planning of those attacks and was wanted on terrorism charges by the FBI.

The US provided intelligence to the Israelis on where they could find al-Masri and the alias he was using at the time, while Israeli agents carried out the killing, according to two officials.

Another two other officials confirmed al-Masri’s killing but could not provide specific details.

His death is a blow to al Qaida, the terror network that orchestrated the September 11 attacks in the US and comes amid rumours in the Middle East about the fate of the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The officials could not confirm those reports but said the US intelligence community was trying to determine their credibility.

Two of the officials – one within the intelligence community and with direct knowledge of the operation and another former CIA officer briefed on the matter – said al-Masri was killed by Kidon, a unit within the secretive Israeli spy organization Mossad allegedly responsible for the assassination of high-value targets.

The official in the intelligence community said al-Masri’s daughter, Maryam, was also a target of the operation.

The US believed she was being groomed for a leadership role in al Qaida and intelligence suggested she was involved in operational planning, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

Al-Masri’s daughter was the widow of Hamza bin Laden, the son of al Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Both the CIA and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which oversees the Mossad intelligence agency, declined to comment.

Read more: Iran continues to stockpile and enrich uranium, says UN