Israeli operatives killed al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader in Iran in August -New York Times

FILE PHOTO: A notice placed in the Pakistani daily newspaper Jang by the U.S. embassy August 22, 2005 shows militants including al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The notice offers rewards for any information which could lead to the capture of the men. (Top row L-R) Osama bin Laden $25 million, Ayman al-Zawarhiri $25 million, Mullah Omar $10 million, Abderraouf Ben Habib Jdy, Faker Ben Abdalaziz Boussora, Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, all $5 million. (Middle row L to R) Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, Saif al Adel, Ali Sayyid Mustafa al Bakri, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, all $5 million. (Bottom row L to R) Mustafa Mohammed Fazul, Anas al Liby, Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali, Sheikh Ahmed Salem Swedan and Muhsin Moosa Matwalli Atwah, all $5 million. REUTERS/Zahid Hussein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two U.S. 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 gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in Tehran more than three months ago, the Times reported.

The killing of Masri, who was seen as a likely successor to al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was kept secret until now, the newspaper said.

It was unclear what if any role the United States had in the Aug. 7 killing of the Egyptian-born militant, the Times said. U.S. authorities had been tracking Masri and other al Qaeda operatives in Iran for years, it said.

A U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, declined to confirm any of the details in the Times’ story or say whether there was any U.S. involvement. The White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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 Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in 2011.

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