- Iran says that the US is lying about al-Masri’s assassination.
- The al-Qaeda leader was allegedly assassinated by Israeli agents.
- He was reportedly shot alongside his daughter.
Iran has rebuffed claims made by the New York Times alleging that a high ranking al-Qaeda member was recently assassinated by Israeli operatives in its capital. According to the Times story, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, who is believed to be the Number 2 in al-Qaeda’s top hierarchy, was killed alongside his daughter, Miriam on August 7.
Miriam was the widow to Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s son. Tehran has dismissed the story as fictitious, and accused the US of trying to slander the country by trying to associate it with terrorism.
According to Saeed Khatibzadeh, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, the United States government is trying to turn the international community against Iran by coming up with false narratives. He said:
“But this approach has become a perennial trend under the current US administration, and the White House has tried to make strides in its Iranophobia scheme through repeating such allegations.”
According to Iranian state media, the man killed was Habib Daoud, a Lebanese professor, and the woman shot alongside him was his daughter Maryam.
The Times has countered by asserting that the al-Qaeda member had been given a false alias by Iranian authorities. The publication contends that the history professor title was just an inveigle to throw off covert US and Israeli security agencies operating in the country.
The report additionally claims that Iran is hosting top al-Qaeda leaders as some sort of insurance to deter the group from launching attacks from the country. Such a move will undoubtedly bring unwanted attention to the high ranking members and to Iran’s top leadership, a situation that both parties are keen to avoid.
How the Assassination Happened
The US government is reported to have provided critical intelligence to Israeli security agencies in Iran about al-Masri’s whereabouts and his involvement in the planning of future attacks.
An ambush by Israeli agents was subsequently staged on August 7. Al-Masri was killed in an alley in Tehran on the anniversary of the bombings that he planned in 1998. The attacks targeted US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.
The Kidon, a Mossad unit that specializes in targeted assassinations for the spy agency, is alleged to have carried out the attack.
Among the reasons why al-Masri’s daughter, Maryam, was killed is because she was apparently being groomed for a high-ranking role in the al-Qaeda group. It has been suggested that she was also involved in some operational planning.
That said, US intelligence agencies, including the FBI and CIA, have declined to formally comment on the matter. Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has also kept mum about the issue.
According to Israel’s Channel 12, the al-Qaeda leader was believed to be planning attacks on Israeli targets before he was eliminated, hence the Mossad’s involvement.