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US, Israel Tracked Down and Killed Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 Leader

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Al Qaeda’s second-highest ranking leader, charged for crimes related to multiple attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998, was assassinated in August during an Israeli-American joint operation.

The New York Times broke the news of Abu Muhammad al-Masri’s assassination on Friday, citing four US intelligence officials. 

According to the report, the United States and Israel worked together to track down al-Masri, but it was ultimately Israeli Mossad agents who carried out the killing. The plot came to a head on Aug. 7 when Israeli operatives in Tehran gunned down al-Masri and his daughter Mirium in an alley on the anniversary of the embassy attacks. Mirium was the widow of Osama Bin Laden’s son Hamza, who was killed in a US operation last year. The Associated Press reported Miriam was a deliberate target of the operation and was being groomed for leadership within the terror organization.

Al-Masri, one of Al Qaeda’s founding members, was charged in the United States for the deadly 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 people dead and hundreds wounded.

The fact that al-Masri was hiding out in Iran is surprising to some. Iran, a Shiite Muslim nation, is bitter enemies with Al Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim terror group. Intelligence officials told The Times that al-Masri had been in Iran’s “custody” since 2003 but had been living freely in the country for several years. 

Iranian officials attempted to cover up al-Masri’s assassination, claiming a Lebanese history professor and his daughter were the victims of the assassination. Al Qaeda did not announce his death either.

Israel and the US have long been intelligence partners – with the US typically more adept at intelligence gathering and Israel highly trained in clandestine operations in enemy territory.

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