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Jun 2nd, 2010

Al-Qaida’s Third in Command Killed

Co-founder of terror network killed by U.S. drone attack in Af-Pak border region


Top al-Qaida commander believed dead (NBC “Today,” June 1, 2010) — Mustafa al-Yazid, also known as Sheik Saeed al-Masri, was a co-founder of the terrorism network and third in command. (01:58).

NBC’s Robert Windrem and The Associated Press via
June 1, 2010

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaida’s number three — a co-founder of the terror network — has been killed in Pakistan’s border area with Afghanistan, according to a statement from the group — perhaps one of the most severe blows to the terror movement since the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida began.

A U.S. official said Mustafa al-Yazid was believed to have died in a U.S. missile strike.

A statement posted on an al-Qaida Website said al-Yazid, which it described as the organization’s top commander in Afghanistan, was killed along with his wife, three daughters, a grandchild and other men, women and children but did not say how or where. …

‘A hand in everything’

The White House hailed the news. U.S. officials said Al-Yazid’s demise it was “a big victory” in terms of counterterrorism, describing him as “the group’s chief operating officer, with a hand in everything from finances to operational planning. He was also the organization’s prime conduit to Osama bin Laden [link added] and Ayman al-Zawahiri [link added]. He was key to al-Qaida’s command and control.”

The Egyptian-born al-Yazid, also known as Sheik Saeed al-Masri, was a founding member of al-Qaida. …

“In some respects, Sheikh Sa’id’s death is more important for al-Qaida operations than if bin Laden or Zawahiri was killed,” said Roger Cressey, former deputy chief for counterterrorism at the National Security Council and now an NBC News consultant. “Any al-Qaida operation of any consequence would run through him.”

Evan Kohlmann, who tracks al-Qaida for NBC News, added that al-Yazid “was one of the original founders of al-Qaida in 1988, and has served on the group’s Shura Council since then. His death is a significant loss for al-Qaida.” …

Two Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said al-Yazid died in a U.S. missile strike on May 21 in the North Waziristan tribal area.

Soon after the attack, officials reported that two foreigners were among the 10 people killed, but did not know their identities. Five women and two children were also wounded in the attack, which occurred in the village of Boya near the main town in the area, Miran Shah. …

Al-Yazid has been one of many targets in a U.S. Predator drone campaign aimed at militants in Pakistan since President Barack Obama took office. Al-Yazid made no secret of his contempt for the United States, once calling it “the evil empire leading crusades against the Muslims.” …

Long involvement with extremists

The shadowy, 55-year-old al-Yazid has been involved with Islamic extremist movements for nearly 30 years since he joined radical student groups led by fellow Egyptian al-Zawahiri, now the No. 2 figure in al-Qaida after bin Laden.

In the early 1980s, al-Yazid served three years in an Egyptian prison for purported links to the group responsible for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. After his release, al-Yazid turned up in Afghanistan, where, according to al-Qaida’s propaganda wing Al-Sabah, he became a founding member of the terrorist group.

He later followed bin Laden to Sudan and back to Afghanistan, where he served as al-Qaida’s chief financial officer, managing secret bank accounts in the Persian Gulf that were used to help finance the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

After the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001, al-Yazid went into hiding for years. He surfaced in May 2007 during a 45-minute interview posted on the Web by Al-Sabah, in which he was introduced as the “official in charge” of the terrorist movement’s operations in Afghanistan. …


Related reports

2009 Al-Masri Profile: Egyptian is Key al-Qaida Figure

Image: Mustafa Abu al-Yazid
Mustafa Abu al-Yazid seen in an undated interview. (Photo credit: AP)


Related reports on this site

Osama bin Laden Personality Profile (Dec. 6, 2009)

Ayman al-Zawahiri Personality Profile (June 3, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — June 2, 2009

Image: Departure of Ashton Lynn Marie Goodman
An Air Force transfer team carries a transfer case containing the remains of Senior Airman Ashton Lynn Marie Goodman early Thursday, May 28, 2009 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Goodman, of Indianapolis, Ind., was killed by a bomb near the Bagram airfield in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Steve Ruark / AP)

4 Americans Fall in Afghanistan

One year ago today, I reported that two roadside bombs killed four more American troops in Afghanistan as violence continued to mount and U.S. casualties climbed to record levels.

4 Responses to “Al-Qaida 3IC Assassinated”
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