The assassination of Abu Muhammad al-Masri in Tehran exposed how Iran became a hideout for al-Qaeda leaders. The Shia country denies and suspects a black campaign by the US and Israel.
Last August a man was shot dead in the middle of a street in the Iranian capital, Tehran, while with his daughter. Initially, the media reported that the victim was a Lebanese academic. Later discovered, he was Abu Muhammad al-Masri, the number two man in the terror network, al-Qaeda.
News of al-Masri’s death was finally submerged by a torrent of reports of an explosion in a Lebanese port three days earlier. However, various theories surrounding his murder quickly became a political issue in the Middle East.
Al-Masri was killed on August 7, coinciding with the anniversary of bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. And al-Masri was initially suspected of planning the terror act that killed up to 200 people.
Now the Associated Press news agency reports, two former top U.S. officials have admitted al-Masri was killed in an intelligence collaboration between the U.S. secret service and Israel. According to his second confession, the CIA provided information, while mossad executed a assassination plot.
One AP source once worked in the inner circle of the U.S. intelligence community and had direct knowledge of the course of the operation. While the other is a former CIA officer who got a report about the operation.
Disappearance of two key al-Qaeda figures
According to his claim, al-Masri was killed by Kidon, a unit in the Mossad body specifically tasked with eliminating high-value targets. In Hebrew, Kidon means “spearhead.”
Officials confirmed al-Masri’s daughter, Maryam, was also the target of the killings. The U.S. suspects he is being prepared to carry out important functions in the al-Qaeda network, and has been involved in planning operations.
Maryam was the widow of Hamzah bin Laden, son of former terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden. He was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region last year.
Al-Masri’s own death is believed to be a major blow to the terror network following rumours of the death of current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. But the veracity of the news has so far not been confirmed by the CIA, AP sources said.
Iran has dismissed allegations it is protecting al-Qaeda’s leader. The government in Tehran maintains a hostile stance against the terror group and suspects the U.S. and Israeli black campaigns behind the latest intelligence operation.
The CIA has long suspected the al-Qaeda leader of living in hiding in Iran for years. This is also known to the Israeli intelligence community. Al-Masri has been in Iranian “custody” since 2003, but has lived in the Pasdaran district on tehran’s edge since at least 2015.
Anti-Iran intelligence campaign
The pattern of killing al-Masri is similar to the methods mossad used in the past.
In 1995, the founder of Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Fathi Shaqaqi, was shot dead by a motorcyclist in Malta. Mossad also reportedly used a similar method of instination against Iranian nuclear scientists early last decade.
Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies and a former Iranian affairs adviser to the Israeli prime minister’s office, said it had known about the longstanding presence of al-Qaeda figures in Iran.
Israel fears the new U.S. administration under Joe Biden will re-commit to the nuclear agreement. The government in
West Jerusalem is urging Washington to push for changes to the nuclear agreement to disarm Iran’s intercontinental missile program.
The assumption that Iran proved to be hiding al-Qaeda leaders on its territory is seen as benefiting Israeli lobbying.