Slumped in a white Renault was a middle-aged man and a youthful woman. Both had been dead. At least 4 shots had been fired at them; one other had hit a passing car. The two assailants had been on a motorcycle, in accordance to Iranian information businesses.
One witness told a local journalist: “We were told there was a shooting. We went to the scene and saw they are shot dead. There were two of them.”
Within hours semi-official Iranian information businesses had been reporting the murders of a Lebanese tutorial known as Habib Dawood with ties to the Lebanese group Hezbollah — and his daughter, Maryam. There was no clarification of the killings, and no arrests reported.
And there the story rested, till a flurry of exercise on obscure social media accounts in mid-October, claiming that the victims weren’t Lebanese, but relatively one of a very powerful figures in al Qaeda — Abu Mohammed al-Masri — and his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza.
The authentic reports concerning the mysterious Dawood appeared suspect because there was no record of a Lebanese tutorial by the name of Habib Dawood, nor anybody with a comparable spelling. Nor was there any eulogy in Lebanon — for both him or his daughter. And there was nothing in pro-Hezbollah media in Lebanon to confirm the identification of the victims.
In mid-October, a Twitter account known as “AnbaJassim” — purportedly belonging to a freelance journalist within the United Arab Emirates posted a screed suggesting it was al-Masri and his daughter who had been killed.
AnbaJassim said he had requested jihadi veterans of the Afghan wars, and “their response confirmed to me that those killed are Abu Muhammad al-Masri” and his 27-year old daughter.
Two weeks later an company known as Shamshad News, which describes itself as an Afghanistan-based radio and tv information outlet, also claimed that al-Masri had been killed in Tehran. But the Iranian authorities remained silent.
On Friday, a senior counterterrorism official told CNN “that Abu Muhammad al-Masri is probably dead.”
The Israeli Prime Minister’s workplace has refused to remark on the report. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a assertion that Washington and Tel Aviv “spread lies” to “portray Iran as associated with these terrorist groups.”
The “media must not be a tribune for spreading and broadcasting the intentional made-up lies uttered by the White House against Iran,” Khatibzadeh added.
An al Qaeda authentic
The death of Al-Masri, whose actual name was Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, deprives al Qaeda of one of its best planners and most skilled operatives. A 57-year old Egyptian, he was extensively thought to have been the brains behind the assaults on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998 — 22 years to the day before the shooting in Tehran.
Al-Masri was a “charter” member of al Qaeda, in accordance to paperwork recovered from Afghanistan by US investigators in 2001.
Along with others in al Qaeda’s hierarchy al-Masri had moved to Tehran after the 9/11 assaults and al Qaeda’s eviction from Afghanistan and spent a few years in jail or under under home arrest. In or round 2005, his daughter Miriam married Hamza bin Laden (they had been both youngsters on the time) within the Tehran compound the place the al Qaeda contingent had been detained. Footage of the event was later recovered within the Abbottabad compound the place Osama bin Laden was killed six years later by US forces and released by the CIA in 2017.
According to Ali Soufan, a former FBI investigator into al Qaeda and an knowledgeable on the group, al-Masri rejected an Iranian proposal that he return to Egypt. And in 2015 he was released from custody as half of a deal Iran made to win the liberty of an Iranian diplomat who’d been kidnapped by al Qaeda in Yemen.
The United States clearly thought of al-Masri a severe and persevering with risk, doubling the bounty for information on him and one other al Qaeda chief — Saif al-`Adl — from $5 million to $10 million in 2018.
Soufan wrote within the Combating Terrorism Center’s journal Sentinel last year: “Throughout its existence, whenever al-Qa`ida has evolved, Abu Muhammad al-Masri has been at the forefront of the change. With al-Zawahiri reported to have a potentially serious heart complaint, the group may be on the verge of only the second transfer of leadership in its history.”
He told CNN Saturday, “Al Qaeda have lost one of their founding fathers and their most experienced and capable operational planner.”
That he was killed on August 7, on the anniversary of the 1998 assaults, was “poetic justice,” Soufan said.