Another senior al-Qaeda leader has reportedly exited the world, this time courtesy of Pakistani security forces. Abu Saeed al-Masri becomes the second Egyptian commander in a month to get killed, after AQ’s WMD expert Abu Khabab al-Masri died in a missile strike in July. Abu Saeed had friends in high places and was one of the original members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group that formed the leadership base of AQ:
Senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Saeed al-Masri has been killed in recent clashes with Pakistani forces in a Pakistani region near the Afghan border, a security official said on Tuesday.
“He was believed to be among the top leadership of al Qaeda,” the senior security official said on condition of anonymity.
Al-Masri, which means Egyptian, was the most senior al Qaeda operative to have been killed in Pakistan’s tribal belt since the death of his compatriot, Abu Khabab al-Masri, an Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert, last month.
Television channels identified the dead man as Mustafa Abu al-Yazid and said he was also known as Abu Saeed al-Masri.
Yazid spent time in Egypt, or rather did time in Egypt, with AQ’s Number Two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both were detained after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, when Zawahiri began to build EIJ. Yazid partnered with Zawahiri in his terrorist endeavors, becoming the chief financial manager of the AQ network, as the 9/11 Commission identified him. The report put Yazid as number 3 in the AQ hierarchy after the death of five others who preceded him in that spot.
His death will come as a large shock to Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, assuming that this report turns out to be correct. Yazid’s death may get buried in a larger setback in Bajaur, literally and figuratively, as the Pakistani army has apparently dug out hundreds of foreign fighters in the region and have begun engaging them. The Pakistanis estimate that 160 militants have already been killed in the battle, which is ongoing.