Israel’s stunning assassination of an Al Qaeda chief inside Iran suggests a major deal was cut with the US

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The assassination last August of a top Al Qaeda commander in Tehran by an Israeli hit squad would have been an exorbitantly costly operation that would have only been undertaken at the direct request of American intelligence services, according to two current European intelligence officials and a former Israeli Mossad official. Israel would have traditionally sought valuable compensation for conducting such a dangerous and complex operation inside Iran, they told Insider.

US intelligence officials confirmed last week that an Israeli operation on August 7, in an upscale Tehran neighborhood, assassinated Abu Mohammed al Masri. Masri was a longtime Egyptian member of Al Qaeda dating back to the late 1980s. Along with a few dozen top al Qaeda leaders and their families, Masri had been living in Iran under various forms of house arrest, detention, or monitored parole since fleeing the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. 

Getting to him — right under the noses of the authorities in Tehran — cannot have been easy or cheap. That is a major indication that US resources must have been deployed to make it happen. 

The US provided the location and Israel provided the hit squad

Masri, along with fellow Egyptian Saif al Adel (also believed to be in Iran), represented the top operational leadership of Al Qaeda, following the killing of Osama bin Laden. The current top leader is Ayman al Zawahiri, but he has acted more as a figurehead for the group and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan’s frontier with Afghanistan. He is also rumored to be dead from illness.

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Masri led Al Qaeda operations in East Africa during the 1990s and was wanted by the US in connection with the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with a $10 million bounty on his head. 

While Al Qaeda did not immediately announce Masri’s death — just as its official sources have been silent on the rumors of Zawahiri’s death — social media accounts considered close to the AQ leadership have begun eulogizing him.

“It was a joint operation with the Americans providing technical details that identified Masri’s secret identity and location in Tehran, while the Israelis provided the actual assassins to do the attack in Tehran,” said a European intelligence official. The source was briefed on the details of the operation but refused to be identified in the media discussing operational matters.

“We have known since 2003 that Iran was using some combination of detention and safe refuge for key Al Qaeda members and their families who fled the US invasion [of Afghanistan] in 2001,” said the official. “Masri and Adel have always posed the most concern for counterterrorism officials because they’re both very capable and ruthless operators and we have seen them being very active with various Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria.”

It has been long understood in intelligence circles that despite the vicious religious and political rivalry between Shiite Iran and Sunni Al Qaeda, an uneasy relationship evolved since 2001, as Iran concluded that the US …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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