USA Today, January 2021
Abu Muhammad al-Masri, the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda was killed in Iran last summer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Tuesday, though he did not say if the U.S. ordered his assassination or had a role in carrying it out. “Today, I can confirm for the first time his death on August 7th of last year,” Pompeo said in remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The New York Times reported in November that al-Masri was “gunned down” in Tehran by Israeli agents at the behest of the United States. He was on the FBI’s “Most Wanted List” for his role in the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which left more than 200 people deal, including 12 Americans.
Pompeo confirmed al-Masri’s death in a broader speech that cast Iran as the new “home base” for al-Qaeda – without offering direct new evidence.
“Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan, as the key geographic hub for al-Qaeda,” Pompeo said. “They’re partners in terrorism, partners in hate. This axis poses a grave threat to the security of nations and to the American homeland itself.”