Al-Qaeda mastermind killed in Somalia, authorities say

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the alleged al-Qaeda mastermind said to be behind the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was killed this week at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia, by government troops who didn’t immediately realize he was the most wanted man in East Africa, officials said June 11. Mohammed, a native of the Comoros Islands, was carrying sophisticated weapons, maps and other “operational materials,” as well as tens of thousands of dollars when he was killed, Somali Information Minister Abdulkareem Jama said. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, then on a visit to Tanzania, called the killing a “significant blow to al-Qaeda, its extremist allies, and its operations in East Africa.”

Mohammed’s death is the third major blow claimed against al-Qaeda in the last six weeks. Just a month after the May 2 slaying of Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Ilyas Kashmiri, sought in the 2008 Mumbai siege and rumored to be a longshot choice to succeed bin Laden, was reportedly killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan. (AP, June 12)

The US had long accused Somali Islamists of sheltering Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, and had targeted him in air-strikes, but always managed to miss him.

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