Iran Denounces Report Al Qaeda's Number 2 Was Killed in Tehran as 'White House Lies'

Iran has denied a report that the man thought to have been a mastermind of attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998 had been killed in the Islamic republic three months ago.

The New York Times had reported that Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, whose nom de guerre was Abu Muhammad al-Masri, had been killed in Tehran on August 7, which was the 22nd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.

Said to be the next in line to Al Qaeda's current leader Ayman al-Zawahri, Al-Masri was reportedly gunned down by Israeli operatives on a motorcycle while driving near his home.

Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader Abu Muhammad Al-Masri who once came to Somalia in early 90s to train jihadists is secretly killed in Iran in August by Israeli agents - @nytimes reports https://t.co/cj44KzjjcR

— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) November 14, 2020

He was killed along with his daughter Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden, the paper said, citing unnamed intelligence sources.

The paper also claimed that al-Masri had been allowed to travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and had been under the protection of the Iranian authorities and living in Tehran since 2015.

Al-Masri, who was believed to be 58 years old, had been indicted in the U.S. for the 1998 attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 people and wounded thousands. He was on the FBI's most wanted list, with a $10 million reward offered for information leading to his capture.

But a spokesperson for Iran's state department dismissed the Times report, describing the "alleged assassination" as a "lie."

سخنگوی وزارت خارجه: ادعای ترور مقام #القاعده در ایران کذب است

این دست اتهام‌زنی‌ها در چارچوب جنگ همه‌جانبه اقتصادی، اطلاعاتی و روانی علیه مردم ایران انجام می‌شود

رسانه‌ها نباید تریبونی برای نشر دروغ‌های هدفمند کاخ سفید علیه ایران باشند pic.twitter.com/FWhkagr73y

— خبرگزاری تسنیم 🇮🇷 (@Tasnimnews_Fa) November 14, 2020

"Such accusations are made as part of a comprehensive economic, intelligence and psychological war against the Iranian people," a translation of the statement in Farsi said.

"The media should not be a platform for spreading purposeful White House lies against Iran," the statement added, according to the Tasnim News agency.

The Times report said Tehran had tried to cover up al-Masri's death, with initial Iranian media reports saying the victims of the shooting were a Lebanese history professor and his daughter.

An Afghan security source had told Reuters last month that al-Masri had been killed but the agency had been unable to confirm that. It is not known whether the U.S. had a role in the death, which has not been announced by Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, denied there was an al Qaeda presence in the country. Shi'ite Iran and the militant Sunni Muslim militant organization Al Qaeda are enemies.

Khatibzadeh said in a statement that the United States and Israel sometimes "try to tie Iran to such groups by lying and leaking false information to the media in order to avoid responsibility for the criminal activities of this group and other terrorist groups in the region," Reuters reported.

U.S. embassy in Nairobi
The remains of the car-bomb used to destroy the U.S. embassy in Nairobi are shown in this picture from August 7, 1998. The man accused of being a mastermind of the attacks was reportedly killed in Iran. Alexander Joe/Getty Images