Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader killed in U.S. drone strike in Syria
PUBLISHED Thu, March 02, 2017 - 10:43am EST
Credit: NEFA Foundation
Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda and the son-in-law of the late Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwest Syria, the group announced on Thursday, ending days of speculation about his fate. (more)
Al-Masri, 59, was killed on Sunday when a drone operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) carried out a precision airstrike in the town of al-Mastuma in the Syrian province of Idlib, striking a vehicle that was passing through the area.
Photos from the scene began circulating hours later amid claims from multiple sources that al-Masri had been killed, but the U.S. military declined to provide information about the airstrike. Al-Qaeda confirmed al-Masri's death in a statement on Thursday, calling him a "hero".
Al-Masri, an explosives expert who was born in Egypt in 1957, was al-Qaeda's second-in-command and was a member of its shura council. He is also believed to have been married to a daughter of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in May 2011.
Private intelligence group the Soufan Group called al-Masri's death a "major blow" for al-Qaeda. "It was in al-Masri’s guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan, that (alleged 9/11 architect) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed briefed top al-Qaeda leaders about the planning of the September 11, 2001 attacks," the group said.
In addition to his links to the September 11 attacks, in which hijacked passenger planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., al-Masri is also alleged to have been involved in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was the target of last month's U.S. raid in Yemen, but the most-wanted terrorist wasn't found at the location, U.S. media reported on Monday. (more) Read More
Al Qaeda's leaders were increasingly worried about spies as the U.S.-led war against them on ground, according to documents seized in the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hideout and reviewed by Reuters.
Key al-Qaeda figure Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of the so-called Khorasan Group which is made up of senior al-Qaeda members, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in northwestern Syria, according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. "His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners," Davis said. The Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) previously reported that U.S.-led forces carried out an airstrike targeting the Khorasan Group near the town of Sarmada in Idlib province on July 8, striking a tactical unit and destroying a vehicle. The U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program had issued a $7 million reward in 2012 for information leading to al-Fadhli. [statement attached]