al-Qaeda Lieutenant Killed in Iran

Muhammad al-Masri was killed by Israeli operatives in Tehran. What happened?


Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, responsible for the 1998 bombings of American embassy buildings in Kenya and Tanzania, has reportedly been assassinated in a joint operation between U.S. and Israeli forces.

  • Abdullah Abu Abdullah, more widely known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, is and al-Qaeda leader who served directly under al-Zawahiri. He has been wanted by American defense and intelligence officials for over 20 years.
  • Al-Masri and his daughter were allegedly shot by Israeli intelligence operatives while driving in Tehran in early August. Al-Masri’s daughter was the widow of Hamza Bin Laden, son of Usama Bin Laden, and an aspiring al-Qaeda leader herself.
  • Iran denies claims that al-Masri was living in Iran, and said that the people shot dead in the streets of Tehran were a Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese history professor and his daughter, not al-Masri.
  • S. intelligence officials have not commented on the attack, and Iran said that it has never housed or provided protection to al-Qaeda operatives.


reporting from the left side of the aisle

  • Reports on the clandestine nature of the attack. CNN and The Guardian write that the operation was the result of years of planning, tracking, and covert international collaboration.
  • Points out that it was a joint operation with America’s close ally Israel. Washington Post implies that Israel assassinated al-Masri as a favor for the United States.
  • Denounces Iran’s claim that the United States lied about the event. Newsweek downplays a statement from the Iranian State Department which calls the report “White House lies…part of a comprehensive economic, intelligence and psychological war against the Iranian people.”


  • Similarly denounces Iranian claims that it was not involved in housing al-Qaeda. New York Post writes that, although al-Qaeda and Iran have historically bad relations, Iran is lying about not housing al-Masri.
  • Reminds readers that this was accomplished in August under the Trump administration. Fox News reports that cooperation between U.S. and Israeli intelligence forces made the operation possible.
  • Frames al-Masri’s death as payback for the 1998 embassy bombings. The Daily Mail called al-Masri’s death “Nairobi avenged.”


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© Evelyn Torsher, 2020