AL-QAEDA'S second-in-command who masterminded the bombings of embassies has reportedly been gunned down by Israeli agents on orders from the US.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, is said to have been shot dead along with his daughter by two hitmen on a motorcycle in Tehran, Iran, in August.
The terrorist warlord was behind the devastating attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 224 people and injured thousands more in 1998.
He was reportedly killed by Israeli agents who were working on the orders of US officials, reports the New York Times.
Al-Masri was seen as a likely successor to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's current boss who took over after the US killed Osama bin Laden.
It is reported US authorities had been tracking al-Masri and other al-Qaeda fighters hiding in Iran for several years.
He was reportedly killed alongside his 27-year-old daughter Miriam, who was the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden.
Al-Masri is believed to have mentored Hamza, who was killed by the US last September.
It was reported the terrorist had been in Iran's "custody" since 2003 but had been living freely in a posh suburb of Tehran since 2015.
He was claimed to have been driving his Renault L90 car at around 9pm on August 7 when two gunmen pulled up on a motorbike.
One fired five shots from a pistol fitted with a silencer – four of which entered the car – killing the terrorist and his daughter.
However, al-Masri also remains listed on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list with a bounty of $10million on his head as of Saturday.
Neither the US or Israel have offered any official confirmation of his death – and Iran has denied the killing occured.
The warlord is listed seventh amongst al-Qaeda's 170 founders, but its unclear what his death will mean for the group's active operations.
Al-Masri had been indicted in the US over the horrific bombing of its embassies in Africa.
He also allegedly ordered an attack in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002 that killed 13 Kenyans and three Israeli tourists.
The terrorist has been on the FBI's most wanted list for several years.
The US National Counterterrorism Center described him as the "most experienced and capable operational planner not in US or allied custody".
He was a longtime member of al-Qaeda's highly secretive ruling council is understood to have fled to Iran following the 9/11 attacks.
Yoram Schweitzer, head of the Terrorism Project of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said: "They believed the United States would find it very difficult to act against them there.
"Also because they believed that the chances of the Iranian regime doing an exchange deal with the Americans that would include their heads were very slim."
He is one of the few high-ranking members of the organization to survive the US manhunt following the 9/11 attack.
Iran has denied the report and stated that there are no al-Qaeda "terrorists" on their soil.
Tehran's state media however did report the death of a man and his daughter around the time the terrorist is reported to have been killed.
The victims were named as Habib Daoud, a Lebanese history professor, and his daughter Maryam.
However, it was reported Daoud does not exist and was actually an alias used by Iranian intelligence agents for al-Masri.
Iranian agents reportedly were trying to cover up that the terrorist commander – an enemy of state – was being harboured by Tehran.
He is reported to have been part of an exchange between Iran and al=Qaeda after the terrorists kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in Yemen.
Al-Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim jihadist group, is an enemy of Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocracy.
Al-Masri had been a professional football player in Egypt before joining jihadi groups in 1979 following the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.
He stayed in the country after the Soviets withdrew and linked up with Bin Laden, becoming a founding member of al-Qaeda.
The terrorist focused his efforts in Africa throughout the 90s, including training Somali guerrillas in the use of shoulder-borne rocket launchers against helicopters.
They used this training to shoot down a pair of American helicopters in the 1993 battle of Mogadishu in what is now known as the Black Hawk Down attack.
Schweitzer said: "When al-Qaeda began to carry out terrorist activities in the late 1990s, al-Masri was one of the three of Bin Laden's closest associates, serving as head of the organization's operations section
"'He brought with him know-how and determination and since then was involved in a large part of the organization's operations, with an emphasis on Africa."
"Daoud" was reported by Lebanese news channel MTV to have been a member of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant organization in Lebanon.
It is not known why al-Masri may have been allowed to stay living in Iran – but US sources speculated it may have been as they perceived Washington as a "common enemy".
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