Slumped in a white Renault was a middle-aged man and a youthful girl. Each have been lifeless. No less than 4 photographs had been fired at them; one other had hit a passing automotive. The 2 assailants had been on a motorcycle, in line with Iranian information companies.

One witness informed a neighborhood journalist: “We have been informed there was a taking pictures. We went to the scene and noticed they’re shot lifeless. There have been two of them.”

Inside hours semi-official Iranian information companies have been reporting the murders of a Lebanese educational referred to 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, however relatively one of the most necessary figures in al Qaeda — Abu Mohammed al-Masri — and his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza.

The unique studies in regards to the mysterious Dawood appeared suspect as a result of there was no report of a Lebanese educational by the title of Habib Dawood, nor anybody with the same 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 referred to as “AnbaJassim” — purportedly belonging to a contract journalist in the United Arab Emirates posted a screed suggesting it was al-Masri and his daughter who had been killed.

AnbaJassim mentioned he had requested jihadi veterans of the Afghan wars, and “their response confirmed to me that these killed are Abu Muhammad al-Masri” and his 27-year previous daughter.

Two weeks later an company referred to as Shamshad Information, which describes itself as an Afghanistan-based radio and tv information outlet, additionally claimed that al-Masri had been killed in Tehran. However the Iranian authorities remained silent.

On Friday, a senior counterterrorism official informed MeSlop “that Abu Muhammad al-Masri might be lifeless.”

The New York Instances first reported the killing of al-Masri and his daughter, citing unnamed officers as saying Israel carried out the assault.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s workplace has refused to touch upon the report. Iran’s International Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh mentioned in a press release that Washington and Tel Aviv “unfold lies” to “painting Iran as related to these terrorist teams.”

The “media should not be a tribune for spreading and broadcasting the intentional made-up lies uttered by the White Home towards Iran,” Khatibzadeh added.

An al Qaeda unique

The demise of Al-Masri, whose actual title was Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, deprives al Qaeda of one of its greatest planners and most experienced operatives. A 57-year previous Egyptian, he was broadly 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 earlier than the taking pictures in Tehran.

Al-Masri was a “constitution” member of al Qaeda, in line with paperwork recovered from Afghanistan by US investigators in 2001.

Together 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 beneath beneath home arrest. In or round 2005, his daughter Miriam married Hamza bin Laden (they have been each youngsters on the time) in the Tehran compound the place the al Qaeda contingent have been detained. Footage of the occasion was later recovered in the Abbottabad compound the place Osama bin Laden was killed six years later by US forces and launched by the CIA in 2017.

In keeping with 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 launched 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 USA clearly thought-about al-Masri a critical and persevering with risk, doubling the bounty for info on him and one other al Qaeda chief — Saif al-`Adl — from $5 million to $10 million in 2018.

Some analysts noticed al-Masri as a potential successor to al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. MeSlop reported final yr that al-Zawahiri was in poor well being.

Soufan wrote in the Combating Terrorism Heart’s journal Sentinel final yr: “All through its existence, every time al-Qa`ida has advanced, Abu Muhammad al-Masri has been on the forefront of the change. With al-Zawahiri reported to have a doubtlessly critical coronary heart grievance, the group could also be on the verge of solely the second switch of management in its historical past.”

He informed MeSlop Saturday, “Al Qaeda have misplaced one of their founding fathers and their most experienced and succesful operational planner.”

That he was killed on August 7, on the anniversary of the 1998 assaults, was “poetic justice,” Soufan mentioned.