June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Al-Qaeda has been dealt a “significant blow” by the death of its suspected leader in East Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was probably killed last week at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. The U.S. had offered a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Mohammed, who was wanted for his alleged involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
“It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and elsewhere -- Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis, and our own embassy personnel,” Clinton said in an e-mailed statement yesterday in Dar es Salaam, where she is on an official visit.
Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s leader, was killed last month when U.S. commandoes raided a house in Abbottabad, near Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. President Barack Obama, announcing his death on May 2, said the fight against terrorism would continue and there was “no doubt” that al-Qaeda would continue to pursue its attacks.
The near-simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi on Aug. 7, 1998, killed 224 people, including 12 U.S. citizens. Mohammed was indicted by a New York district court for his alleged involvement, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website listing the most wanted terrorists.
The African Union is investigating unconfirmed reports from “internal East African intelligence sources” that Mohammed is dead, Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, said by phone from Mogadishu yesterday.
Mohammed and one other man were killed by Somali forces when the pickup in which they were traveling failed to stop at a checkpoint after straying into a government-controlled district of Mogadishu, Agence France-Presse reported, citing security officials.
The incident happened on the night of June 7-8, Somali security officials told AFP. DNA tests subsequently confirmed the suspect’s identity, the news service reported.
Al-Shabaab, a regional grouping affiliated to Al-Qaeda, acknowledged Mohammad’s death, AFP said, citing a leader of the organization who asked not to be named.
Mohammad was traveling with a South African passport, $40,000 in cash and several mobile phones, AFP reported.
--With assistance from Sarah McGregor in Nairobi. Editors: Paul Tighe, Jim McDonald
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