Israeli activists killed al-Qaeda's second-largest chief in Iran in August: the New York Instances

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US SECRETARY OF THE STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT ADDRESSES KENYANS AT THE BOMB SITE.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Al Qaeda's deputy, accused of helping to combat the 1998 bombings on two US embassies in Africa, was killed in Iran in August by Israeli activists at the behest of the United States, the New York Times, reported Friday, citing intelligence officials.

Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who passed Nom de Guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle in the streets of Tehran on Aug. 7, the Times reported.

The murder of Masri, believed to be the likely successor to al-Qaeda's current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been kept secret, the newspaper said.

It is unclear what role the United States played in the murder of the Egyptian-born militant, the Times said. The US authorities had persecuted Masri and other al-Qaida activists in Iran for years, it said.

Al-Qaeda has not announced its death, Iranian officials have covered it up and no government has publicly accepted responsibility, the Times said.

Iran denied the report on Saturday, saying there were no al-Qaeda terrorists on its soil.

State Department spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement that the United States and Israel sometimes "try to bind Iran to such groups by lying and giving false information to the media to hold responsibility for their criminal activities Group and other terrorist groups in to avoid. " the region".

Donald Trump's government "anti-Iran scare tactics have become routine," said Khatibzadeh.

A US official, speaking with Reuters on condition of anonymity, declined to confirm details of the Times story or to say whether there was any US involvement. The White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Masri, one of the founding leaders of al-Qaeda, was killed along with his daughter, the widow of the son of former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, Hamza bin Laden, the Times reported.

Osama bin Laden orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and was killed in a US raid in Pakistan in 2011.

Shiite Iran and Al-Qaeda, a Sunni-Muslim militant organization, have long been enemies.

Masri had been in Iranian "detention" since 2003, but had lived freely in an upscale suburb of Tehran since 2015, the Times quoted nameless US intelligence officials as saying.

US counter-terrorism officials believe Iran, also a US enemy, could let him live there to conduct operations against US targets, the Times said.

It was not immediately known what effect Masri's death had on the activities of al Qaeda. Although it has lost senior leaders in the nearly two decades since the attacks on New York and Washington, it has maintained active members from the Middle East to Afghanistan to West Africa.

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