A weekend story in The Washington Post and others claimed that three months ago the CIA and Israel’s Mossad conducted a successful high-risk operation to kill al-Qaeda’s deputy leader in Tehran who was among the terror group’s founding members, and next in line to take command after Ayman al-Zawahri.
It was no less than the accused mastermind behind the twin bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 people and is remembered as al-Qaeda’s first large-scale terror attack on United States targets. The covert assassination reads like a Hollywood script:
Israeli agents acting at the behest of American officials assassinated al-Qaeda’s second-in-command in August, in a brazen drive-by shooting in Iran’s capital, according to a senior U.S. official.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, whose nom de guerre was Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed along with his daughter, Maryam, as they were driving in an upscale Tehran neighborhood, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
Curiously in the case of past major terror leader killings which had US involvement, President Trump was quick to make public the information and declare ‘victory’. In the case of any major successful covert op to kill Abu Muhammad al-Masri, Trump would have spiked that football, especially in the middle of his reelection campaign. But instead the world is hearing about it many months after the fact.
Iran is now vehemently denying it. A detailed CNN account of what is known notes that Iranian state media initially said the man killed was a Lebanese academic tied to Hezbollah, but that story didn’t appear to bear out.
Still, even in local media it remained a mystery as to exactly what happened:
On the night of August 7, residents of a middle-class neighborhood in northern Tehran heard shooting. Some of them rushed out to see what had happened.
Slumped in a white Renault was a middle-aged man and a younger woman. Both were dead. At least four shots had been fired at them; another had hit a passing car. The two assailants had been on a motorbike, according to Iranian news agencies.
After being reported in the last days by The New York Times, Washington Post, and AP News, Iran has blasted the story as yet another tactic by neocons in D.C. to tie the Shia Islamic Republic to the Sunni terror group al-Qaeda.
With this latest claim of Masri’s assassination, the central suggestion to the narrative is that Iran was “harboring” him:
Israeli agents kill AQ’s No. 2 on the streets of Tehran at request of the CIA.
Further evidence the regime in Iran has been harboring and aiding al-Qaeda’s leaders responsible for killing Americans. https://t.co/tvcTouybs5
— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) November 14, 2020
Iran’s foreign ministry on Saturday charged the United States and Israel with falsely trying “to draw a link between Iran and such groups through falsification and the leakage of fabricated information to the media,” according to state media.
Iran’s statement further said it was somewhat routine disinformation tied to Trump and Pompeo’s “maximum pressure” campaign: “Such accusations are undoubtedly part of the full-fledged economic, intelligence and psychological war against the Iranian people, and the media should not act as a tribune for spreading the White House’s purposeful lies about Iran,” according to the official statement.
This 👇 https://t.co/ks3Hc9CL0o
— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) November 15, 2020
Indeed one key neocon talking point has long been that somehow Iran was ultimately behind 9/11, despite the growing body of evidence pointing to Saudi state sponsorship.
The geopolitical analysis site Moon of Alabama has issued a partial list of the many times over the past decade the media has hailed the killing of “Al Qaeda’s #2” – strongly suggesting Iran’s denial of the story has merit:
Moon of Alabama had even reported on the slew of similar and “convenient” headlines throughout the mid to late 2000’s:
Twelve years ago we already joked about all the fake “Al-Qaeda No.2 killed” stories which appeared in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The Trump White House has lately vowed to slap as many sanctions on the Islamic Republic as possible right up to January 20, when Biden is expected to enter the White House.
The administration has openly touted that it will seek to make it nearly impossible for Biden to lift all sanctions and re-enter the JCPOA nuclear deal brokered under Obama.