Advertisement
Monday, Jul 04, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

US, Israel Worked Together To Track And Kill Al-Qaida No. 2 Al-Masri

Al-Masri was gunned down in a Tehran alley on Aug. 7, the anniversary of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

US, Israel Worked Together To Track And Kill Al-Qaida No. 2 Al-Masri
In this Sunday, Aug. 9, 1998 file photo, Israeli soldiers bring in heavy lifting equipment to the wreckage of the Ufundi House, adjacent to the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. The United States and Israel worked together to track and kill Abu Mohammed al-Masri, a senior al-Qaida operative in Iran earlier this year. | AP
US, Israel Worked Together To Track And Kill Al-Qaida No. 2 Al-Masri
outlookindia.com
2020-11-15T09:09:17+05:30

The United States and Israel worked together to track and kill a senior al-Qaida operative in Iran earlier this year, a bold intelligence operation by the two allied nations that came as the Trump administration was ramping up pressure on Tehran.

Four current and former U.S. officials said Abu Mohammed al-Masri, al-Qaida's No. 2, was killed by assassins in the Iranian capital in August.

The U.S. 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 of the officials. The two other officials confirmed al-Masri's killing but could not provide specific details.

Al-Masri was gunned down in a Tehran alley on Aug. 7, the anniversary of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. 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.

Al-Masri's death is a blow to al-Qaida, the terror network that orchestrated Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S, 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 U.S. 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.

In Hebrew, Kidon means bayonet or “tip of the spear.” The official in the intelligence community said al-Masri's daughter, Maryam, was also a target of the operation.

The U.S. 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 like the others, 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. He was killed last year in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

The news of al-Masri's death was first reported by The New York Times.

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

Israel and Iran are bitter enemies, with the Iranian nuclear program Israel's top security concern. Israel has welcomed the Trump administration's withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord and the U.S. pressure campaign on Tehran.

At the time of the killings, the Trump administration was in the advanced stages of trying to push through the U.N. Security Council the reinstatement of all international sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the nuclear agreement.

None of the other Security Council members went along with the U.S., which has vowed to punish countries that do not enforce the sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.

Israeli officials are concerned the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden could return to the nuclear accord.

It is likely that if Biden does engage with the Iranians, Israel will press for the accord to be modified to address Iran's long-range missile program and its military activity across the region, specifically in Syria and its support for groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.

The revelations that Iran was harbouring an al-Qaida leader could help Israel bolster its case with the new U.S. administration.

Al-Masri had been on a kill or capture list for years. but his presence in Iran, which has a long history of hostility toward al-Qaida, presented significant obstacles to either apprehending or killing him.

Iran denied the reports, saying the government is not harbouring any al-Qaida leaders and blaming the U.S. and Israel for trying to foment anti-Iranian sentiment. U.S. officials have long believed a number of al-Qaida leaders have been living quietly in Iran for years and publicly released intelligence assessments have made that case.

Al-Masri's death, albeit under an assumed name, was reported in Iranian media on Aug. 8. Reports identified him as a Lebanese history professor potentially affiliated with Lebanon's Iranian-linked Hezbollah movement and said he had been killed by motorcycle gunmen along with his daughter.

Lebanese media, citing Iranian reports, said that those killed were Lebanese citizen Habib Daoud and his daughter Maraym.

The deaths of al-Masri and his daughter occurred three days after the catastrophic Aug. 4 explosion at the port of Beirut and did not get much attention. Hezbollah never commented on reports and Lebanese security officials did not report that any citizens were killed in Tehran.

A Hezbollah official on Saturday would not comment on al-Masri's death, saying Iran's foreign ministry had already denied it.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.

Advertisement